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.