Passengers Sue United Airlines Over Being Denied Food And Threatened With Arrest

Two passengers who say they were denied food and threated with arrest after requesting a Hindu meal are now suing United Airlines. The airline is, of course, “taking it seriously.”

According to court documents, the Patels boarded United Airlines Flight 836 from Shanghai to Chicago on July 17. The tickets came with an airline pledge to furnish the Patels and other members of their group with Hindu meals.

United Airlines’ Hindu meals are designed for vegans and do not include meat, fish, eggs or dairy products. The diet is part of the religion, which the airline acknowledges under its list of religious diets.

According to the lawsuit, when attendants began serving non-Hindu meals to the group, the Patels informed them of the problem.

Attendants then told the Patels that “they could not have any meals or food of any nature whatsoever other than what had been offered throughout the entire flight.”

The head attendant, according to the suit, told the other attendants the Patels were not to receive any food or alternates for the remainder of the 12-hour flight, despite other passengers being given bread and fresh fruit — which are allowed in a Hindu diet.

The suit also alleges the head attendant threatened to have the plane diverted to Tokyo, where Patel would be removed from the aircraft, arrested and have his passport taken. She also threatened Patel with arrest in Chicago and investigation by the FBI.

A witness wrote a letter describing the incident, which was included in the lawsuit. In it the witness said an attendant called “one of the Indian travelers ‘obnoxious’ and insisted that he stop talking about the incident.”

“I felt this was outrageous as this was definitely a food issue not a terrorist issue,” she wrote.

United Airlines spokesperson, Megan McCarthy, was unaware of the lawsuit when contacted by the Wilmington Delaware News-Journal:

“In general, any situation involving complaints from our customers we take seriously and we will address,” she said.

Del. couple sue over airline food dispute [Delaware Online] (Thanks, Nancy!)
(Photo:zonaphoto)

Comments

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  1. Jthmeffy says:

    well, at least they are taking it “seriously”… give me a break

  2. KingPsyz says:

    I swear to god, as if it wasn’t bad enough how poorly the airline industry treated it’s customers before 9/11.

    Now they can use TSA and the FBI to intimidate customers and push their sky waitress ego trips.

    This is why it pisses me off so hard that our tax dollars keep being used to save their horrible buisness model when they claim they can’t turn a profit.

  3. timmus says:

    Thank you for pointing out that they are the “taking it seriously”. I want to see the public relations lexicon thinned out so much that companies actually have to step up to the plate and say something worthwhile.

  4. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    I. Will. Never. Fly. Period.

  5. vastrightwing says:

    … but they are taking it seriously… seriously!

  6. balthisar says:

    @PSN: kingpsyz: We’re the reason they can’t turn a profit (and why I can’t enjoy a good flight any more). Everyone has to compete over penny price differences because all of the ex Greyhound riders realize they can use their cheapness to drive down prices to the point where airline service is where it is today. If we’d all grow up and just pay $5 to $10 extra per seat without crying over it, things would be a lot better. Until then, I try to fly as many foreign airlines as I can.

    No, I don’t work in the airlines, but I travel a lot, and it used to be a pleasant experience.

  7. newspapersaredead says:

    No proof here but why do I have a feeling the passengers made a huge scene when the promised meal was not served? Lets get real here: Flight attendants do not typically threaten arrest, threaten to have flight diverted, or deny bread and fruit unless someone really pissed them off. I’m not in the business of sticking up for airlines but I’ve seen some passengers verbally abusing flight attendants due to something totally out of their control. Someone on the ground likely dropped the ball but all the anger was taken out on the flight attendants. The proper way to deal with this would be to try to deal with the situation as best as possible while in flight and take action with airline representatives once on ground. I have a feeling they would have at least been given bread and fruit if they acted reasonably. Just because a company doens’t follow through on a promise doesn’t give one the right to disrupt a flight. Not saying it’s right to starve passengers, but there has to be more going on in this story that what’s here.

  8. KingPsyz says:

    air travel is serious business

  9. hypnotik_jello says:

    @newspapersaredead: Just because the story isn’t described as you wish doesn’t mean “there has to be more going on in this story that what’s here.

  10. KingPsyz says:

    @balthisar:
    Not really, the reason they can’t sustain their business is horrible customer service which leads to people shopping price because they know regardless of carrier they’ll probablly be miserable.

    Also it has to do with greed, I can’t see multinational companies staying afloat if they needed government handouts to keep the lights on.

    Maybe if your management didn’t make 14950934835 times what front lines made there’d be enough money for gas and peanuts without getting subsidies…

    Hell let CostCo open an airline and watch them move to the front of the class. They know well treated, happy employees lead to awesome customer service and repeat business.

  11. kepler11 says:

    Consumerist, why do you post stories that are poorly substantiated and inflammatory without the full facts? The description here is vague and is probably not the full story — definitely we only have one side of it. It is also a poorly researched news story to begin with, having quite a bit of ambiguity.

    I don’t want add to unfounded speculation, only to summarize what seems obvious — these passengers didn’t get their special meal on the flight. They were quite unhappy about not receiving food, but after this, who knows what happened? It sounds like they must have raised such a scene that the flight attendants resorted to threatening diversion or arrest (which is not appropriate if true, but we are not told the full circumstances). The reasons behind each side are the important thing, but we don’t have any of those facts here.

    For example, this is very odd, and sounds like the complainants are badly rephrasing something that was said: “…Attendants then told the Patels that ‘they could not have any meals or food of any nature whatsoever other than what had been offered throughout the entire flight.’ “

    You’re saying that the crew were preventing the Patels from eating any food, even other food they found or were given somehow? Or, does this mean they were offered food? That contradicts the statement that the crew were instructed not to give any food. Is it more reasonable to infer that what was actually said was something along the lines of, “there isn’t any other food on this plane to serve you besides what we have here”?

    There is clearly some misunderstanding going on here, and we aren’t getting the full story. This would be a more compelling consumer issue if we had the facts and this airline were clearly being jerks. As it is, I have to wonder what the passengers did too.

  12. MercuryPDX says:

    “Group” sounds like more than the two people suing. Was this a case of having 10 meals and needing 12, or ??? Couldn’t other members of the “group” (who did get hindu meals?) “share the wealth” so the lady could take her pills? Not suggesting that what the airlines did was in any way right, but no one in the group surrendered a meal so Mrs. can take her pills?

    The head attendant, according to the suit, told the other attendants the Patels were not to receive any food or alternates for the remainder of the 12-hour flight

    That’s just wrong. Especially when there were alternatives aboard.

  13. forgottenpassword says:

    Hey! You are supposed to get what you paid for! If you dont get it… that’s a breach of contract. Throw in a vindictive flight attendant making sure you are punished for daring to ask for what you paid for, along with threats of arrest & a winess to boot!….. well…. what ya got there are well-laid grounds for a kickass lawsuit!

    Sue away! I sure as hell would!

    btw…. some of these airline stewardesses are becoming what cops are today. Powertrippers with little patience & a hairtrigger attitude. I am suprised they dont get tasers to use on “unruly” passengers who dare to ask for the meal they have been promised.

  14. kepler11 says:

    other things that stand out in the story:

    “…In her letter to the airline… Feld said an attendant called ‘one of the Indian travelers ‘obnoxious’ and insisted that he stop talking about the incident.” “

    I would be curious to know in what way the passenger was being obnoxious.

    “…The tickets came with an airline pledge to furnish the Patels and other members of their group with Hindu meals…”

    No airline ticket comes with a “pledge” to serve *any* food.

  15. rkm12 says:

    You’re not going to get the full story when one side, the airline won’t comment. As long as they won’t talk you have to run with the information you have.

  16. insomniac8400 says:

    I really don’t like how a vegan or a hindu feels they can sue when given the wrong meal. No one would consider it an injustice if a person who eats meat got a vegan meal. The fact is the airline screwed up the meal and they didn’t get a special meal. They had the option to eat it or not. But the airline still served them food. And I really don’t see too much of a problem with the attendants making threats if these passengers were causing problems. If you have dietary requirements that you personally can’t deviate from, bring your own food.

  17. forgottenpassword says:

    @insomniac8400: “Bring your own food.”

    That is IF it makes it past the TSA. “you got a bomb in that pie maam?”

  18. MyCokesBiggerThanYours says:

    Who blogged this nonsense. They weren’t denied food. They were denied special treatment.

  19. hypnotik_jello says:

    @MyCokesBiggerThanYours: Did you even RTFA?

  20. dreamcatcher2 says:

    @insomniac8400:
    @MyCokesBiggerThanYours:

    While I don’t disagree that we are missing the corroboration of independent witnesses, the complaint is far more significant than “we didn’t get the special food we were promised.” The complaint is “we were denied food of any sort when we asked for our promised special food, which resulted in potential medical complications for one person, and we were threatened and harassed.”

    Whether or not their complaints are corroborated remains to be seen, but if this is what happened then they deserve compensation.

  21. chocxtc says:

    No airline will ever take us seriously until we band together and DEMAND a passenger bill of rights that the airline lobbyists cannot defeat. This is beyond ridiculous and like a previous post, I am sick of the airline employees thinking they can threaten to have us arrested or denied boarding for their ineptitude.

  22. ab3i says:

    @insomniac8400: although i agree that suing seems to be a bit extreme, the difference here is that for *some orthodox* Hindus it is against their religious beliefs to eat meat. Now, religious restrictions don’t really give you much leeway, and definitely do not fall under ‘personal dietary requirements’. The airline should have provided the meal, especially if the request was made on the reservation.

  23. iMike says:

    I hope they didn’t fly from Shanghai to Chicago on that 757.

  24. Unnamed Source says:

    The fact that an ostensibly uninvolved third party passenger felt it necessary to write a letter to the airline speaks volumes about which side to believe. I’ve fortunately never run into a flight attendant on a power trip abusing their new found powers, but I’ve certainly heard from what I consider reliable sources about them. I think it’s bad enough that most of the flight attendants I’ve traveled with lately hate their jobs and let it show in their work. I can’t blame them for hating their jobs considering the product the airlines are giving them to “sell”.

  25. kepler11 says:

    I will state my bias and say that I find it hard to believe that the air crew actively prevented the passengers from receiving any food whatsoever (i.e. the lead flight attendant saying “these people” are not to receive food of any kind). But it’s possible, I guess, and that would be worthy of a story, but what did the passengers do to inflame the situation? Flight attendants don’t become vindictive because you ask them for a special meal. You don’t get reprimanded for asking for a special meal. Something must have been misinterpreted and overblown as a result, by both sides. I would really like to know what happened.

    And if there is some fault on the passengers’ side, and they misinterpreted the situation, then the headline “passengers denied/deprived food” is quite an exaggeration and Consumerist is not being reasonable here in posting a story that is so unclear. “Deprived/Denied food” means they had food and it was taken away from them. The passengers were probably, actually, *offered* food, but it was not suitable given their dietary requirements.

  26. akalish says:

    With the stories I hear about in-flight treatment lately, I have to wonder if some flight attendants have begun to lose their sanity.

  27. goodkitty says:

    @balthisar: Only $5 or $10? Well, considering the $50 fuel ‘surcharge’ that is now in effect, we should be seeing some seriously nice accommodations soon then, eh?

  28. Trick says:

    @goodkitty:

    @balthisar: Only $5 or $10? Well, considering the $50 fuel ‘surcharge’ that is now in effect, we should be seeing some seriously nice accommodations soon then, eh?

    The $50 benefit is that you won’t fall out of the sky when the plane runs out of fuel… that is a benefit!

  29. CurbRunner says:

    Homeland Security, through the Patriot Act, has basically given airlines flight crews carte blanch power to treat customers like shit. This transfers any responsibility for their negative behavior back to Homeland Security who will always play the “national security risk” card to dodge the issue. It now appears that many flight attendants have taken that new found feeling of power to unnecessary levels of abuse. It’s not like there hasn’t been reports of such abuse on an almost weekly basis over the last 18 months.
    These incidents aren’t going to become any less frequent until this level of power is trimmed or until some flight attendant’s abuse of power provokes the wrong passengers into a rage that may actually bring a plane down in response.

  30. TechnoDestructo says:

    @PSN: kingpsyz:

    Serious business taken seriously.

  31. lovelygirl says:

    @Kepler11, if an airline ticket does not come with a pledge to serve a certain type of food, then why do they ask you online when you’re paying if you require a special meal? If a meal comes with the flight and they offer vegan meals, and you pick and pay for the vegan meal, you are then entitled said vegan meal. It’s in black and white; right on the ticket that a meal is included. They were entitled to their vegan meal. If they paid for it, why should they have to bring their own food?? It’s not like they didn’t let the airline know in advance!

  32. inkhead says:

    No actually you should be able to tell them to return the plane to the airport if your reason is that you feel the aircraft is unsafe to fly. I know after 9/11 a pilot told me that if you thought the aircraft wasn’t safe, heard a noise, they had to check it out, and if you didn’t approve the had to let you get off “AKA back to the airport”

    I know it worked when I did hear a noise, as I was returned much to the annoyance of all the other passengers (2 others got off, when I did)

    However I’ve never tried it on a plane waiting for clearance for 3 hours. I know they are holding you hostage, but IF I ever am forced to wait on the tarmack for a hour locked inside a plane, I’m going to call 911 and tell them I need to get off, and being held hostage… I don’t care, you can’t imprison me against my will, and I’ll spend everyday till I die fighting it in court.

  33. ExecutorElassus says:

    @insomniac8400: uh… they didn’t sue because they didn’t get the food they wanted. They’re suing because the attendant apparently went apeshit on them when they complained. RTFA.

    That said, having flown with Hindu meal requests myself, I know that you ALWAYS call 48 hours before, and confirm the food. Then call AGAIN 24 hours before, and confirm again. If the airline doesn’t hear the customer drilling them about the food over and over, they forget all about it, ’cause they’re morons. It doesn’t at all justify how they were treated, but they should exercise diligence about this stuff.

    Especially when, as Hindus, eating the flesh of animals would be a moral abomination on par with cannibalism.

  34. jamar0303 says:

    That’s it. I’m taking my Mileage Plus card and using it with ANA instead (thank $deity for Star Alliance). This is just too much. I’ve been on this Shanghai-Chicago flight a few times and have never had a totally pleasant experience. I’m going through Tokyo next time.

  35. @balthisar: “Everyone has to compete over penny price differences because all of the ex Greyhound riders realize they can use their cheapness to drive down prices to the point where airline service is where it is today.”

    No kidding. In 1994, I paid $350.00 for a cross-country round trip fare, coach class. Today, with jet fuel almost 3x as expensive, I can expect to pay…about $450.00.

    I think flying should be affordable – but in this case, affordable would mean that people are willing to pay $600.00 for that same round-trip ticket to get the clean airplanes, meal service, and an airline staff that are not experiencing their fourth pay cut in three years.

    Tensions on jets these days aren’t just high because of security fears, but because most of the majors are forcing their employees to provide more ‘service’ to customers who never learned common courtesy, who don’t listen to anything the flight attendants tell them (for the fifteenth time, please switch off your phone, and buckle your belt, you twit!), and simply because stuffing 100+ people into the beat-up and dirty fleets that United and US Airways call jets makes everyone cranky.

    I flew on an 18-month old Canadair RJ-900 yesterday. It was filthy. Crumbs, crud, dirt, maintenance handprints all over the walls, physically improbable seat pitch…the list goes on…do you really expect an industry that can’t bother to bust out the 409 and a vacuum for a jet that’s been sitting idle for eight hours to get a meal order straight? At the end of the same flight, we spent an extra ten minutes waiting at the gate because the gate agents hadn’t shown up yet – they are stretched too thin because management pared them back for labor costs.

    I’d gladly pay more and fly more often if I could get early-90s class service on airlines. But until the massively obese party-of-nine-with-two-screaming-babies-coming-back-from-Vegas-in-their-pajamas demographic feels like doing so, then I’ll punish the airlines by withholding my business travel dollars and firing up the teleconference setup.

    What all this has to do with the missing Indian food should be obvious: the airlines aren’t paid enough to care anymore, the employees are bitter and cynical over draconian management, and we all suffer indirectly from the downward price pressure.

  36. @kepler11: Consumerist, why do you post stories that are poorly substantiated and inflammatory without the full facts?

    I don’t know. I sent them a well-sourced and substantiated story about GEICO refusing to pay a valid claim after stalling me and the other party for four months.

    Not sexy enough, I guess.

  37. @CurbRunner: It now appears that many flight attendants have taken that new found feeling of power to unnecessary levels of abuse.

    I can honestly say that in the past five years, despite logging tens of thousands of miles domestically, I have never seen a member of the crew, from the purser to the junior FA, treat any passenger unfairly.

    However, I have experienced dozens of instances of snotty, ignorant, unsafe, and rude behavior from passengers. (For exmaple, the cast-iron b*tch on yesterday’s US Airways flight 2730 from San Jose…in the second starboard exit row…yeah – you were mean to that flight attendant, and we both heard you call her a fatass under your breath.)

    Please try to keep in mind that there are always two sides to a story, that flight attendants cannot always drop everything they’re doing to personally serve your needs at once, and that maintenance of a safe cabin environment is paramount, and above all else the cabin crew’s biggest responsibility.

    Lastly, I’d submit that if there is any abuse of power by cabin crew out there, it probably arises from the resentment that these people feel about having had to take some pretty huge pay cuts over the past few years while goverment bailouts and declining service have meant massive bonuses for the white guys in the executive suite.

  38. @insomniac8400: I really don’t like how a vegan or a hindu feels they can sue when given the wrong meal.

    Yeah, and the nerve of those Jews, getting all pissed off when you serve them pizza in their oatmeal!

    (rolls eyes)

  39. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @insomniac8400: And what about folks with food allergies? Should we deny them ‘special treatment’ as well?
    Asking to get what was promised to you is not seeking ‘special treatment’ kids.

  40. kc2idf says:

    @rkm12:

    I really don’t like how a vegan or a hindu feels they can sue when given the wrong meal. No one would consider it an injustice if a person who eats meat got a vegan meal. The fact is the airline screwed up the meal and they didn’t get a special meal. They had the option to eat it or not. But the airline still served them food.

    People who eat meat generally also eat vegetables, and there is nothing in a vegan meal that could not be in an omnivore’s meal. No religion that I know of pronounces that you must eat meat but not vegetables.
    That said, several religions do have dietary restrictions. I doubt you would even dare to make such a comparison if we were talking about a Kosher meal.

    And I really don’t see too much of a problem with the attendants making threats if these passengers were causing problems.

    …but were they causing problems, or is the stewardess powertripping?

    If you have dietary requirements that you personally can’t deviate from, bring your own food.

    That works just fine if (and only if) you can get it past the security checkpoints. Good luck there.

  41. Consumer007 says:

    I find this outrageous on the Airline’s part, and I’m glad they are suing. The two suspicious things to me here are 1. The captain’s role / input. With something involving an upset group of passengers, the captain is usually notified, and certainly he would have been aware of the airline’s alternate food policy, and required the attendants to apologize and acccommodate with the alternate foods like they did the other passengers. 2. This story seems to be quite sparse on direct comments from the Patels themselves, and seems to be written in “third person” style. Maybe because a lawsuit is involved, but I’d like to hear the Patel’s own account of it. Also, I really agree, given the over-paranoid concern about terrorists these days that the best approach for passenger consumers to take when they are slighted by airline stupidity, incompetence and nonsense in the air is to calm down, laugh it off, be firm but pleasant then then give ‘em legal hell when landing. as the Patels have. It’s important to remember when complaining and “making a scene” the considerations of the comfort and safety of the other passengers, which have also paid just as much money for their flights. But if you really want to escalate with an uncooperative airline attendant, demand the head attendant have the captain get involved. That is the safest and most respectful way to show them you mean business. In this case, I also would have mentioned allergies, and legal responsibilities if any allergic reactions resulted, including possible lawsuits against individual attendants…but again, that’s only at the point that you’ve tried being nice a few times first and a reasonable and customary request is met with ignorance and hostility…but then again, another tact one can take with an overworked, bitter attendant (who obviously shoud have stayed at the hotel and not gone on the plane) might be to complement them for trying, sympathize with the bad day they are having and say you’re not taking it personally, it’s just business.

  42. Consumer007 says:

    Further thought…I find it really outrageous, given the absence of other details here that would prove the Patels put people in fear of safety, that attendants try to use the hammer of threatening arrest given the simple request that was asked. I hope they got their names, and if it’s found they were in the wrong, I would settle for no less than their termination by the airlines for inappropriate harassment of paying customers on a flight. Attendants do have to put up with drama and nonsense sometimes themselves, but they need to remember that they are seeing the people as they really are, in their private lives, and since the attendants are working, and the passengers are not, the attendants have the overriding greatrer responsibility to be professional, patient, tolerant and polite. Consumers, on the other hand, only have the responsibility to cooperate to the degree they are not threatening other passengers or comfort. They DO NOT have the obligation of agreeing with everything an attendant says on other matters that are not safety related, and on food-safety related matters, can be just as vociferous as they would with any rude, uncooperative waiter in a restaurant. I would really like to see regulation allowing passengers to affect the compensation of attendants who don’t serve them well, analagous to the tipping system… that would have settled the attitude problem of the attendant in this scenario. Perhaps this also begs the bigger question of having separate attendant roles of server versus safety steward so complaining about food service doesn’t inappropriately make you a “threat” in the staff’s eyes.

  43. Consumer007 says:

    Finally, the suggestion about bring and eating one’s own food to get around the issue is great. What problem would / should security have with that? None, assuming you didn’t pack the ginsu knives. There is no consumer obligation to defer to the increasingly rancid and rotten and limited food selection airlines are providing these days at increasing cost.

  44. cashmerewhore says:

    @Consumer007:

    When I flew in August all liquid-like items larger than 3oz in size, including somebody’s stashed jello pudding cups, weren’t permitted in carry-ons.

    I tossed my food at security. But I was flying Skybus and bought my food on the plane.

    @insomniac8400:
    I don’t know much about Hindu, but I know that if you’re following a Kosher diet, you are not to eat food that may have touched other food-party items (Meat can not come in contact with dairy), strict Kosher requires two separate placesettings for meat & dairy, or requires that the utensils that came in contact with one be flamed (above 700degrees) before touching the other.

  45. Angryrider says:

    What happened to good ol’ common sense? All the stewardesses had to do was ask the passengers if they would like an alternative. There was bread and fruit!

  46. dgcaste says:

    @vastrightwing: That last bit reads “period period period.” Are you sick?

  47. dgcaste says:

    @aaron8301: oops last comment was for aaron! Misjudged the reply-to link.

  48. jamar0303 says:

    @CaliforniaCajun: You want the kind of in-air service you got in the early 90s, fly JAL might not find that kind of service anymore (unless Virgin America covers the places you go).

  49. FLConsumer says:

    @balthisar: I wouldn’t mind paying an extra $100-500 per flight if it meant not having to deal with the TSA monkeys and horrid airline customer (dis)service. The only problem is that there is NO airline offering good customer service now.

  50. JackAshley says:

    European and Asian airlines charge only fractions of what our airlines charge, and turn a pretty profit too! I flew from london-madrid round trip for 135 US dollars. Go figure :) Service was good too, and they didnt even ask for my passport at security!

  51. TWinter says:

    Hmmmmmm. I wonder how much of this could have been a cultural misunderstanding gone very wrong?

    An American friend who is married to an Indian told me that people in India tend to be very aggressive in customer service situations. She gets freaked out by her own husband’s behavior sometimes when they are traveling in India because it is so different from how he behaves in the US.

    Could the flight attendant have over-reacted to a complaining style that would seem normal to Indians but aggressive to Americans?

  52. NotATool says:

    @TWinter: Good point, but I would also say that the cultural thing goes both ways. Since United is not an Indian airline, the Indian passenger, especially one who resides in Delaware, should be savvy enough to tone it down for the United flight attendants.

    On a different topic, I just loved this quote:
    “In general, any situation involving complaints from our customers we take seriously and we will address”

    In general they take complaints seriously? Their PR wizards have “taken it seriously” to the next level!

  53. esqdork says:

    @kepler11: When I fly, I do it in fear. Not because I am afraid of mechanical problems but because I am trapped for hours in a steel container with people (both passengers and flight crew) who are increasingly surly and sometimes irrational. I have seen flight attendants react inappropriately to the slightest provocation. Yes, they were provoked but the reaction is often unprofessional, sometimes funny and sometimes downright scary.

  54. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @CaliforniaCajun: Did you post it in the forum?

  55. rustyni says:

    I fly Delta religiously due to my SkyMiles, and I’ve never run into a single rude flight attendant. Maybe it’s because I fly Nashville to Atlanta and then to Los Angeles and back every time I fly, but my crews have always been hospitable, friendly, and accomodating. The only time I saw an attendant get anywhere near irritable, was when the airhead in the seat in front of me kept removing her rat-dog from its carrier and holding it on her lap. The attendant had to ask her FOUR TIMES to put the dog away in case anyone had allergies, and every time the dumb broad would wait until the attendant walked away before yanking Rover right back out.

    In that case, I understood why the flight attendant was getting cranky. I would have been a lot less friendly and said something along the lines of, “Put the goddamn dog away or say goodbye on your peanuts!”

  56. KJones says:

    When it comes to ignoring customer requestes for special meals, some countries’ airlines can be unbelievably arrogant. If you ever fly on Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean or Japanese based airlines, even if you book your flight and meal weeks in advance and have it confirmed, you are not guaranteed of receiving it.

    I flew some of those countries airlines in the past and had all of these occur:
    * the meals were never booked by the travel agent
    * the meals were booked by travel agent but not provided by the airline
    * the meals were booked but not given to me by the employees who “thought it was unnecessary”
    * one meal was booked but the stewardess gave it to another passenger

    I have a foot allergy so if they don’t provide a proper meal, I can’t eat. Fortunately for me unlike the Patels, all these flights were when I was flying country to country in Asia so the longest I had to endure was four hours.

    My advice to anyone: head to a submarine sandwich shop before boarding and get a fresh foot long sub (no meat, no cheese, no sauce) before a long flight. It will remain edible and safe to eat at room temperature. And if you do get the meal you booked, it’s only a few dollars you’re throwing away if you don’t eat it.

  57. GOKOR says:

    I hate when people get an attitude with the person on the frontline, especially when they’re the low person on the totem pole and have no real say.

    After flying and dealing with jerks all day who feel they have the right to tell you off and be rude to you all day, and often nights, I don’t blame them for having a bit of an attitude themselves.

    Once again, as I’ve said before, don’t give the frontline a hard time, they don’t deserve it from you…unless they’re being the jerk first.

  58. vladthepaler says:

    So is a Hindu meal the same as a vegan meal (in which case, why not call it that?) or is it different (how?)? The story is unclear.

  59. CurbRunner says:

    @inkhead: said: “I don’t care, you can’t imprison me against my will, and I’ll spend everyday till I die fighting it in court.”

    Sorry dude. Now that habeas corpus is gone, they can and have done this to people.
    Some call the tools they to do this the “Patriot Act” some call it “Rendetion” or “being dissapeared”.

  60. brent_w says:

    At the people jumping the gun and accusing the customers of creating the problem.

    Did you read it all?

    A passenger UNRELATED to the conflict witnessed it and wrote a letter to point out the flight crew’s behavior and mistreatment of the customers.

    Clearly the evidence is against your presumptions.

  61. Erskine says:

    @brent_w:

    Brent,

    Since this site went Gawker, most of the posters are trolls.

    It’s so sad to see the big sellout.

  62. RandomHookup says:

    @KJones:

    I have a foot allergy

    That could cause some real problems.

  63. TWSS says:

    @CaliforniaCajun: Thanks for sticking up for the FAs. They bear the brunt of all the passenger frustrations caused by the airports, the FAA, and the TSA and get their union-contracted pay slashed in return. Many joined up decades ago when an FA was as stable a job as a nurse. As with many female-dominated professions, they’ve been systematically devalued and denigrated.

    They’re there to SAVE OUR ASSES. I’ve seen FAs do the paddle-shocky thing on a passenger with no heart beat, clear aisles to assist an unaccompanied minor with asthma, and coax untold numbers of anxious passengers through their fear of flying.

    It certainly sounds as though the crew member in question behaved inappropriately. That’s no excuse to tar the entire profession with such a broad brush. Have some respect instead of attacking the easy target, people.

  64. juju says:

    @vladthepaler: Hindu food does not mean vegan. Most hindus can eat dairy but abstain from any meat including fish and sometimes eggs.

  65. bearymore says:

    I had a similar experience with UA, though not as extreme. I was flying from DC to LA, a 5 or 6 hour flight. The ticket clearly indicated that there would be meal service on the flight. There was — but only to the first three rows of the coach section of a 757. They then trotted out the snack boxes and ran out by row 6. As I take medicine for diabetes, I was counting on having some food available and assumed that there would be given my ticket’s assurance.

    When it was clear I wouldn’t get any food, I flagged down an FA, told her my situation and asked if I could purchase a snack. At the time they were still selling them at the front of the compartment, though it was clear that they would run out quickly. I was very polite, but was greeted with rudeness, abuse, and threats. What saved the day was that the other FA, who overheard the exchange, set one of the snack boxes aside and brought it to me after the food service had ended.

    There are three parties at fault, here:

    1) The FA for acting inappropriately.

    2) UA for poor management, both for stocking an inadequate supply of food, even at $5 per box, and for poor personnel management.

    3) The Patriot Act for giving FA’s dictatorial powers on airplanes without training them to distinguish threatening passengers from impolite or annoying ones and not penalizing FA’s who waste law enforcement time through frivolous accusations.

    Since the incident, I’ve flown Delta a couple of times on the same route. When they said there would be food, there was invariably food and I was treated politely throughout.

  66. D3R3K says:

    That’s why american based airlines are ranked lowly on the international level. Wouldn’t be suprised if the head attendant had no clue about Hindu meal requirements. She probably offered them beef….

  67. Consumer007 says:

    Bearymore ~ How horrendous – If you told them at the beginning of your flight about your health condition (can’t) tell from your post, you shoud have been THE FIRST one served. Even if you didn’t, when you did make it obvious, a FA threatening you (not sure the nature of the threat, you didn’t indicate in your post), someone with a medical condition, is in my mind grounds for a huge lawsuit against the airline and reason for their termination – if all that is true, they threatened your life, your safety and your well being and I would have demanded their termination upon landing. At the very least they committed fraud charging you for a meal they didn’t provide. Have you called their customer service line demanding action? The FAA? The State Attorney General where you flew from or to?

    That’s the mistake so many consumers make, they don’t do anything after the fact, and then we all wonder why we have flying anti-consumer torture camps to fly in.

  68. Consumer007 says:

    Not to mention a local consumer reporter – threatening a diabetic for asking a meal which they paid for and not serving it…good headline lol, not to mention calling diabetic associations and having them harass the airline for more “education”, action etc.

  69. JerseyJarhead says:

    When the Patels tried to use the restroom, they were categorized as “militant pee-ers” and smacked around by the flight attendants, and again threatened with arrest.

  70. varienk says:

    I would trust the Hindus as I have experience with flying with United and was provided the worst vegetarian meal I ever had (they run out of meals or they have not arranged it), and the flight attendants said nothing about it and just said this was what was arranged. It was different from other vegetarians sitting close to me. When I asked for more information, the flight attendants just avoided to come up with an answer and even not come up to provide water or juice, and just neglected me.
    I also have another experience when someone next to me was coughing badly and asked if I can get another seat, but the flight attendants just refused it and even not moving the sick person next to me to the last empty row. Bad service at all UNITED airlines both on-flight and as well as on ground.
    Worse flight attendants.