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Ill & Involuntarily Removed from United Flight HKG -> SFO

Ill & Involuntarily Removed from United Flight HKG -> SFO

Old Jun 26, 17, 3:35 pm
  #1  
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Ill & Involuntarily Removed from United Flight HKG -> SFO

I was sitting next to the bathroom (Economy Plus Seat 24A of United 862 from HKG to SFO) on Tuesday. As the doors were closing, I walked to the toilet and threw up multiple times in quick succession, and alerted a flight attendant. I was asked if I feel better now and I said I feel very good after throwing up. They opened the door again and a cleaning lady walked in a couple of minutes later. Another lady asked if I had checked luggage and that the captain would make a decision to keep me or not. A couple of minutes later, I was told the captain wanted me off the plane. I was told I would meet security. Once I got through the door they told the plane "sorry for the delay, we had a sick passenger" and I started tearing up. At that point, watching the United plane close the door, while I had to wait for security, made my cry as I started dialing my friend on the phone.

I think the reason I got kicked off was because 1) I was traveling by myself and 2) I had no checked bags. Thankfully, instead of security, I met one professional agent who escorted me and rebooked me for next day (I saw her in the Global Services stand the next day). Thankfully I didn't get beaten (joke) or have to talk to security, which is what I was told would happen.

However, I had no wallet (my slim travel wallet fell out during the Uber ride on the way to SFO departure and I didn't notice because the Passport was the same size) and HKG was a layover. I had to beg my friend to wire me more money while I was in tears since I had no wallet, no money, no hotel, and I was very tired. I cried sitting on the floor next to the bathroom in that huge airport. I finally got money and booked the on-site hotel.

Questions:

1) Am I entitled to compensation for the hotel?
2) What about compensation for being involuntarily removed and having to take a plane 24 hours later?
3) Also, I had previously told the gate agent I had no wallet and tried to upgrade to First Class, hoping to pay by signing a paper to charge my card on file and 30K points from my account, similar to what I did at a Hyatt during the vacation. Was there something United could have done to help me with the upgrade, as well?

About 12 hours prior, I had eaten a variety of seafood including 3 drinks and got nauseous many hours later but I had no cramps. I had no drinks in the prior 12 hours and the only food was eggs, etc. And I threw up in the toilet, not on the floor (though I missed a bit).

Not much luck with United for me... I was $100 away from United Gold last year. And, my prior United to SFO flight 3 years ago (from ICN) got mechanical issues and was re-routed to Japan instead, causing another 24 hour delay...

Last edited by skyflytime; Jun 26, 17 at 5:49 pm
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Old Jun 26, 17, 3:50 pm
  #2  
 
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Do you have travel insurance? Normally that kind of insurance covers the costs of unexpected illness and travel delays.

The one time this happened to me I *ran* to make a tight-due-to-mx connection at DEN -- ran a little too fast, had eaten a little too well on the prior flight -- made the flight but ended up a little sick in the bathroom (and a little bit on seat 1E). Feeling wobbly at that point I voluntarily deplaned, was met by medics at the gate (wow) who said everything was fine, rebooked for the morning flight, and took a UA distressed-passenger slip to buy my own hotel to overnight at DEN.

It wouldn't have occurred to me, the time I did this, to ask UA to cover the costs of a hotel. It also wouldn't have occurred me to try to fly anyway even on a short domestic jaunt -- feeling wobbly is a bit scary, would really rather recuperate a few hours on the ground just in case. But I can see how your preferences might be different and I hope that things work out for you. This must have been a scary experience, hope you're feeling better now!
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Old Jun 26, 17, 3:57 pm
  #3  
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UA understandably does not want a medical emergency during a 14 hour flight.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 3:59 pm
  #4  
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Seems the pilot determined you were medically unfit to travel -- and was a medical risk to travel (perhaps potentially requiring a diversion). Obviousily the pilot is not qualified medical doctor but has make a judgement call based on the information available and potential impact to the rest of the passengers.

UA CoC states
Rule 21 Refusal of Transport

UA shall have the right to refuse to transport or shall have the right to remove from the aircraft at any point, any Passenger for the following reasons:

H. Safety – Whenever refusal or removal of a Passenger may be necessary for the safety of such Passenger or other Passengers or members of the crew including, but not limited to:

13. Passengers who are incapable of completing a flight safely, without requiring extraordinary medical assistance during the flight, as well as Passengers who appear to have symptoms of or have a communicable disease or condition that could pose a direct threat to the health or safety of others on the flight, or who refuse a screening for such disease or condition. (NOTE: UA requires a medical certificate for Passengers who wish to travel under such circumstances. Visit UA’s website, united.com, for more information regarding UA’s requirements for medical certificates);
There are other clauses about the present of passengers that could be disruptive / offensive / .... to other passengers. The Pilot's authority is very broad.

So likely no compensation since it was unclear you were safe to transportation but I suspect UA will be very helpful in arranging alternative transportation once you are fit to travel.

Note -- traveling without any monetary resources is a a very risky decision - did you lose the card while traveling. Letting someone use a credit card number without actually having the card would have been very unusual. Very surprised the Hilton did it.

Hope you are felling better.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Jun 26, 17 at 4:07 pm
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Old Jun 26, 17, 4:01 pm
  #5  
 
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I am truly sorry for your sickness

The Captain is the boss of the plane, he has to weigh your sickness and the potential for a medical emergency along a flight path that isn't very accommodating against his allegiance to his employer, and the costs they could incur, not to mention your health.

Not knowing the whole story, I think he probably made the right call and assuming he acted with respect, you don't say where anyone was mean or rude to you. I think United fulfilled their obligation to get you from point A to B

I would doubt you have much grounds for any type of compensation, this is no different than if you were in a Hospital and unable to fly. In this case you showed up and they rebooked you instead of charging a change fee. The Captain believed you were too sick to fly, so you flew 24hrs later.

The whole not being removed from the plane doesn't count if the Captain or crew feels it isn't safe for you to fly. Their new policy is for overbooking etc They had every right to remove you from the flight.

I am not going into the whole wallet thing as I don't understand how someone can get to a foreign country with no wallet, but that is a story for another day.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 4:02 pm
  #6  
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My wallet fell out as I got out of the Uber at SFO when starting the vacation, and I didn't notice until I was on the plane. It was a smaller wallet than my regular one, same dimensions as the passport, and feeling the passport in my pocket made me think I still had it. At the end of my vacation, Uber Support finally replied that the driver had my wallet as I hoped. That was right before I ordered the food that made me nauseous. I was able to pick up the wallet with everything including cash intact from the driver when I finally got back to SFO.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 4:03 pm
  #7  
 
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Originally Posted by skyflytime View Post
1) Am I entitled to compensation for the hotel?
2) How about involuntarily getting removed from my plane and having to take a plane 24 hours later?
3) Also, I had previously told the gate agent I had no wallet and tried to upgrade to First Class, hoping to pay by signing a paper to charge my card on file, like I did at a Hyatt during the stay. Was there something United could have done to help me with the upgrade, as well?
1. No, you were not fit to fly.

2. No, you were not fit to fly.

3. No, Surprised that Hyatt did this, sounds far from PCI compliant for such a large origination.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 4:05 pm
  #8  
 
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Why didn't you ask United for a hotel voucher upon your involuntary disembarkation? During the rebooking process, I would have asked for one.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 4:10 pm
  #9  
 
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If you had been sitting next to me, had gotten sick, and they had NOT removed you from the plane, I would have gotten off myself and taken a flight the next day. You might be comfortable thinking it was just the seafood, but how does everyone else know that you don't have Norovirus? Removing you from the flight was the right thing to do.

Next time, spare credit card that isn't kept in your wallet. Or a credit card company who will overnight you a new card at an international location.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 4:12 pm
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I asked if they could give me a hotel and I don't remember what they said. At that point, I still had to go through immigration and customs, and get money wired for food no matter what. The small amount of money I had left from a previous destination was insignificant once converted to HKG currency.

My Hyatt account had my credit card on file and I booked rooms via the app. They charged me and had me sign a paper to authorize additional amounts such as food I had charged to the room.

The United app stopped showing the 30k for $600 upgrade shortly after I was interested in it, but the gate agent said it was still available. I might have been able to do it myself in the app if it was still showing.

I have a variety of cards including Reserve and United and I will see what they say about the trip insurance. I didn't think of getting a card overnighted since it was a fairly short trip. Thanks everyone.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 4:47 pm
  #11  
 
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Originally Posted by skyflytime View Post
I asked if they could give me a hotel and I don't remember what they said. At that point, I still had to go through immigration and customs, and get money wired for food no matter what. The small amount of money I had left from a previous destination was insignificant once converted to HKG currency.

My Hyatt account had my credit card on file and I booked rooms via the app. They charged me and had me sign a paper to authorize additional amounts such as food I had charged to the room.

The United app stopped showing the 30k for $600 upgrade shortly after I was interested in it, but the gate agent said it was still available. I might have been able to do it myself in the app if it was still showing.

I have a variety of cards including Reserve and United and I will see what they say about the trip insurance. I didn't think of getting a card overnighted since it was a fairly short trip. Thanks everyone.
Sorry to hear about your situation, but glad you made it back safely!

As far as I know, the trip insurance from those cards only apply if you used them to pay for part of the trip. I'm not sure if they would have to have been used on the flights or if hotel counts. Haven't read through the guide to benefits in some time.

On a higher level, I applaud your decision to notify the FA so that they could get the lavatory cleaned up. There are many travelers that would not have done the same. In that case, would they have been able to make the trip, or would the FAs have gone searching for the passenger, if they even noticed? It kinda seems unfair to be "punished for doing the right thing." Furthermore, none of the parties involved seem to be medical professionals. In this case it turned out to be food poisoning, but there could have been other causes such as norovirus or morning sickness. It seems like a case where the captain would need to be very careful about their discretion but where "needs of the many vs needs of the few" is sound logic.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 5:00 pm
  #12  
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Some credit card companies such as the AmEx Plat card have been known to call hotels in emergencies to arrange for room, F&B, etc. charges to be authorized for the card account in the absence of a physical card.

They can usually send you a new card overnight without it being a big deal, although of course you need a hotel or some other address that receive the card.

Once my card was compromised (not my fault) and this was discovered the afternoon before I was leaving for a major international trip. My new card was delivered by noon the next day, just as I was leaving for the airport. They made it work.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 5:02 pm
  #13  
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Thanks, eeflyer. Great point that I got punished for notifying the attendant. Flushing and closing the lavatory door and sitting back in my seat as they were pulling away from the gate would not have been a big deal. I did need a minute but I was fine right after. If I wasn't alone and had checked bags (they asked me these questions), I don't think they would have kicked me off, however.

By the way, I appreciate the concern everyone has shown. It's been 5 days and I haven't thrown up since that time.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 5:04 pm
  #14  
 
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HKG is one of the places, if I can recall, that they use thermo-imaging as you enter the immigration area. At least they used to, during the outbreaks of Asian bird flu and SARS. I'd guess that boarding out of HKG, not even considering flight path and duration, is a strike against anyone who is sick. I remember walking thru Kowloon Park during the height of those, the place was empty, and PSA signs were everywhere.
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Old Jun 26, 17, 5:05 pm
  #15  
 
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I think UA was in the right on this. I'm so sorry to sound cold. But your illness, if it had been a real problem could have caused thousands of dollars to United.

I'm glad you received good service from UA with an agent who assisted you. This sounds like a most unfortunate experience.
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