Disruptive Passenger Leaves Fellow United Travelers Stranded In Belfast Terminal For Nearly 24 Hours

United Airlines had a decidedly less-than-stellar week when it came to dealing with larger-scale customer service issues. Just days after the company faced the ire of travelers who had to spend the night hunkered down at a cold Canadian military base, the airline found itself on the receiving end of more backlash after nearly 300 passengers and crew were made to wait five hours on the tarmac and sleep in a closed terminal after their flight was diverted. 

NBC Chicago reports that issues with the Rome-to-Chicago flight began shortly after takeoff on Saturday, when the plane’s pilot made a decision to divert to a Belfast, Northern Ireland airport because of an unruly passenger.

While law enforcement officials met the plane upon arrival at the airport to take the disruptive customer into custody, by the time the incident was resolved the United crew had reached the maximum work hours set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Passengers tell NBC Chicago that at that point they sat on the tarmac for nearly five hours. A spokesperson for United couldn’t confirm how long passengers were waiting on the tarmac.

As with the Canadian military base incident last week, there weren’t enough hotel rooms available for the 269 passengers and they were asked to bring their pillows and blankets off the plane to use in the terminal.

“[United] had us sleeping on the baggage claim floor and then moved us to departures,” one passenger tells NBC Chicago. “They never sent us someone to explain what was going on.”

Customers were given food vouchers and “other services” to make them comfortable during the overnight stay, the spokesperson says.

Other passengers expressed their displeasure that the airline didn’t move more quickly to resolve issues.

“I fully understand the compliance with FAA regulations but there was zero sense of urgency,” a passenger tells NBC Chicago. “Our bags are still on the plane. I can’t imagine why they didn’t [have] a different crew in here as quickly as possible.”

The flight finally left Sunday afternoon, about 21 hours after first landing at the Belfast Airport and 24 hours after departing Rome.

United Airlines Under Fire Again After Forcing Passengers to Camp Out in Terminal [NBC Chicago]

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