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United Airlines

Tennis Pro Rallies Against United

Tennis Pro Rallies Against United
Joe Cortez

Tour player accuses United of discrimination over checked tennis bag.

A professional tennis player is accusing United Airlines of discrimination, claiming that the carrier singled her out for attempting to carry on her tennis bag by claiming it was “oversized.” In a long Facebook post, WTA Tour pro Shuai Zhang said that the carrier denied her request, despite her claims she had carried it on before.

Zhang, who is currently ranked 34 in the world, was flying from Tampa International Airport (TPA) to Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) on Wednesday, June 7 when the alleged incident happened. In her post, she claimed that the gate agent was unprofessional to her in denying the baggage allowance. The tennis star accused the gate agent of stretching out her tennis bag in order to prove that it violated United’s carry-on allowance.

“She [the gate agent] even manually stretched out and fully expanded my tennis bag with air and empty space so that it would appear to exceed the maximum length of a carry-on,” Zhang wrote on Facebook. “And she took a photo of it as proof that it doesn’t meet the size requirement!”

During the confrontation, the tennis pro also accused the gate agent of forcefully taking her tennis bag, as well as confiscating her passport and tearing her boarding pass. Zhang alleged the gate agent said she would not be allowed to board if she did not check the bag.

The flyer ultimately relented to the request, taking all five of her tennis rackets and carrying them in a shoulder bag to avoid having multiple carry-ons. Zhang, who is a United MileagePlus Premier 1K flyer, said on social media that this was the first time she had this experience at the gate, going so far as to call it “discrimination.”

In a statement on Twitter, the airline said that they “were speaking with the passenger directly.” However, another flyer who claimed to be aboard the flight said on Twitter that Zhang’s comments were incorrect. His comments have not yet been independently corroborated.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (4)


  1. patch8

    June 9, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    pretty sure the FAA carry-on size limit is 9x14x22 for ALL passengers…..

  2. ohmark

    June 10, 2017 at 4:34 am

    Nor have hers.

  3. AAJetMan

    June 11, 2017 at 4:12 am

    Having carried it on before, allegedly, is sitll no excuse. Like telling a police officer that you’d driven under the influence before without getting arrested.

  4. Tenniscan

    June 13, 2017 at 3:30 am

    I play tennis too and carry a decent sized bag. Sometimes the airline or tsa won’t allow it.. most do. I am just always prepared to pull my racquets out if asked to check my bag.

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