The pilot’s troubling behavior caused more than a dozen passengers to deplane long before the airline removed the aviator from the flight.
Passengers on a United Airlines flight from Austin–Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) say things got off to a bad start when the captain arrived late and clad in street clothes rather than her uniform. Things reportedly became even more uncomfortable when the pilot took to the intercom to make a rambling pre-flight speech.
“She shows up dressed like a civilian and asked us to take a vote to see whether we should have her change into her uniform or fly as is,” Pam O’ Neal, a passenger on the flight, told San Francisco NBC affiliate KPIX. *“She started off by saying that she had not voted for either Trump or Clinton because they’re a bunch of liars. It just really sort of went downhill from there and didn’t make a lot of sense to any of us.”
The flight crew member’s odd rant continued on – touching on her recent marital troubles, revisiting last year’s contentious US presidential election and exploring the ethnic heritage of several passengers in the cabin. It was at this point that 20 or so passengers decided to exit the plane out of concern over the pilot’s fitness to fly.
As news of the bizarre episode broke on Saturday evening, the airline confirmed some details of the troubling incident to Austin television station KXAN.
United Airlines spokesperson Charlie Hobart told reporters that the captain was improperly out of uniform when she boarded the plane. He said the flight was delayed for about two hours so that a replacement crew member could be dispatched to fly the plane.
“We hold our employees to the highest standards and replaced this pilot with a new one to operate the flight, which we expect will depart shortly,” the airline said in a brief statement. “We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience.”