Passengers say that crew members initially dismissed their concerns over jet fuel gushing from the wing of a Venice-bound United flight just prior to takeoff.
Looking out from the window seat of a passenger jet to see fuel pouring out from the wing of the aircraft would be a bit disconcerting for any passenger to say the least, and happening to spot that jet fuel spurting out of a transatlantic-bound aircraft just moments prior to takeoff would be downright scary for even a seasoned flyer. If, after raising the alarm, crew members dismiss passenger warnings as hysterics, even the best of us might start to panic.
This is the very situation passengers onboard a Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE)-bound United Airlines flight say they found themselves in on Tuesday.
“I’m sitting looking out window at the wings, and all of a sudden fuel started shooting out of the wing really really hard,” Rachel Brumfield told the New York Post. “It was huge. It looked like a fire hose.”
The 28-year-old who was traveling on her honeymoon says that when her husband Mike frantically attempted to bring the potentially disastrous situation on the Boeing 767 to the crew’s attention, flight attendants simply “yelled at him to sit down.” Fortunately, much like William Shatner in every aviation geek’s favorite episode of the Twilight Zone, Brumfield was persistent and the pilots were eventually informed of the rather serious state of affairs. The plane was soon surrounded by firetrucks and the flight was cancelled a short time later.
According to the just-married pair, the captain was quite grateful for the timely heads-up and even offered the hero couple champagne before inviting them to the cockpit where the flight crew watched mobile phone footage of the gushing fuel leak. Brumfield says that the captain even joked that the newlyweds should “go easy” on the airline when posting about the ordeal on social media.
Brumfield reports, however, that their time spent being treated as heroes was short-lived. She says that they did not make their distressing video publicly available until the airline declined to offer overnight accommodations, forcing them to sleep on the floor in baggage claim at the airport.
“I will never fly United again,” Brumfield told the Post. “Every person there was awful.”
Airline officials would not comment on the newlyweds’ version of events. A statement from the company downplayed the situation which was caught in dramatic footage captured by the couple.
“While taxiing to the runway yesterday evening, United flight 170 traveling from Newark to Venice, Italy returned to the gate due to a fuel leak, and was later cancelled,” United spokesperson Jonathan Guerin told the newspaper. “We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience. Our team helped provide customers with hotel accommodations for the night and are working to get them back on their way to Venice today.”