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Delta Air Lines

United Handles Crisis…Correctly?

United Handles Crisis…Correctly?
Joe Cortez

Personal essay tells story of United crew that defeats problems with humor over confrontation.

For possibly the first time in 2017, a United Airlines flight crew is getting credit for how they handled a ground issue prior to takeoff. In a personal essay written to ZDnet, author Paul Greenberg details a situation where a good attitude defeated a chain reaction of issues.

Greenberg’s adventure began after boarding his United flight. Once everyone was aboard, a friend received a notification that the gate had changed. This was due to a malfunctioning restroom door, which created a security issue for pilots. Because the pilots could not use the nearest lavatory, going to a further one could put themselves – and the flight – in jeopardy. As a result, the passengers were deplaned and sent to another gate and another aircraft.

After boarding the second aircraft, everyone had to be removed once again. This time, the passenger manifest was deleted during the transfer, requiring gate agents to rebuild it. Further delays to the flight were caused by a mysterious fuel loss, followed by no tug operators available to push the aircraft back.

Instead of becoming fraught with dismay over the issue, Greenberg said the flight attendants and pilots met the issue with humor and grace. As a result, the affected passengers were not frustrated by the situation, but rather appreciated the absurd set of circumstances along with those on the flight.

“Throughout this insanely weird confluence of events, the flight crew – the captain, the purser, and the flight attendants all were helpful, funny, cheerful, friendly, sympathetic, and attentive,” Greenberg wrote in his essay. “[They] made what could have been a classic ‘United sucks’ event into a ‘this is so ridiculous that its actually funny so let’s keep our good nature and wits about us’ event.”

The event is an extreme juxtaposition from how United handled previous situations earlier in 2017. In April, a passenger was forcefully removed from a flight after refusing to give up his seat, followed by a family accusing the Chicago-based carrier of taking a seat away from a toddler in July.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (5)


  1. MaxVO


    November 1, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Wow, United didn’t melt down after a confluence of mishaps! How ’bout a Presidential Medal of Honor to mark the occasion. Btw, I didn’t see a word about compensating pax for the inconvenience.
    And the picture of DL planes is a poor fit to this item.

  2. FlyingNone

    November 1, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    What could they possibly have done to make it humorous, cheerful and friendly. I’m not saying passengers have to go ballistic but please, don’t make this sound like a Disney “experience”.

  3. diver858

    November 1, 2017 at 8:50 pm

    United currently has 4500 daily departures, good and bad events are inevitable. Enough already…

  4. Boggie Dog

    November 2, 2017 at 6:40 am

    Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while.

  5. eng3

    November 2, 2017 at 8:19 am

    “For possibly the first time in 2017, a United Airlines flight crew is getting credit” That is purely based on the media only reporting negative events. I’m sure UA correctly handles many issues which may occur on nearly every flight every day. Even the with the high profile events, typically the event was handled properly by UA, but the media misreporting, public not understanding aviation, combined with UA’s extremely PR team that allow something to spin out of control.

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