With the recent news that British Airways is set to understock food on all its flights, leaving travellers at serious risk of going hungry, while Delta reveals the ultimate airport transfer in the form of a Porsche 918 Spyder, you’d be forgiven for thinking that United would be looking to keep its nose clean and uphold its reputation for an industry-leading premium travel experience. Unfortunately, however, one awkward incident on a domestic US flight has left a bitter taste in the mouth of a threatened passenger…
The flyer, who goes by the name of Sam, took to Reddit to air their grievances about the incident whereby they were threatened with being added to the airline’s ‘No Fly’ list after asking for one of the leftover first-class meals. Though the post has since been removed from Reddit by the subreddit’s moderators, we’ve done our best to write up the story here, which occurred on a journey from Denver to Seattle.
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As he had disembarked the first leg of his journey — which had taken him from Madison to Denver — Sam had playfully mentioned to a flight attendant named Susan how much he loved the airline’s manicotti and jokingly asked if there were any leftovers for his next flight to Seattle. Susan, with a smile, assured him she would “see what she could do.”
Upon reboarding in Denver, Sam exchanged a friendly greeting with Susan, reminding her of their light-hearted deal. She responded with a reassuring “I got you.” Unfortunately, their conversation caught the attention of another flight attendant named Sheletha, who approached Sam in a reportedly confrontational manner and informed him that he couldn’t have a leftover first-class meal.
Sam graciously replied, “Ok, that’s fine, no worries.” Despite this, Sheletha instructed Susan not to serve him a meal during the flight. Nevertheless, Susan discreetly offered Sam a leftover pasta from first-class — just the main course, it’s worth noting, no sides included — after the scheduled meal service was complete.
However, Sheletha had been keeping a close eye on the situation from the first-class galley. As soon as Sam took a bite of his meal, she immediately confronted him, stating that she would be “writing him up” for accepting a first-class meal. Sheletha went on to claim that it was Sam’s responsibility to refuse the meal and should have known better.
The cherry on top was that she warned this violation could lead to Sam being denied boarding and placed on United’s no-fly list. Allegedly, Sheletha even went on to claim that the captain was upset about the incident. Following the flight, Sam sought out the captain to discuss the matter, and the captain promptly apologized for Sheletha’s behaviour.
Over at Live and Let Fly, where the story has also been reported, Matthew Klint had this to say about the incident:
It sounds like “Sheletha” was totally unhinged. This is one of those grey areas in which there is no written policy for or against disposing of leftover first-class meals, but I bet there will be now…and lovely and kind gestures like those of Susan will occur less and less.Matthew Klint
As the news broke, many other United flyers piled in behind Sam, admitting that they too had happily accepted leftover first-class meals in economy class. These gestures not only engender loyalty to United Airlines but also prevent wastage of perfectly good food that would likely be discarded.
In the cutthroat aviation industry where airlines constantly compete to push their luxury offers to new heights, this feels like an easily avoided boo-boo by United. Threatening to add a passenger to a ‘No Fly’ list is certainly not the recipe for a premium travel experience, not to mention that pouncing on a man after the first bite of his favourite pasta will likely see him spend his hard-earned pennes elsewhere…