Some passengers on a United Airlines flight this week heading for Newark were more worried they’d end up in Oz instead of New Jersey after they say the pilot warned them before takeoff that they’d be heading through some particularly nasty weather.
In an announcement over the plane’s speakers on Tuesday night, the pilot “seemed angry” while telling passengers that they’d be flying through “horrific storms including tornadoes” on the flight from Chicago to New Jersey, one traveler told NJ.com.
According to her, he also told passengers to “get to know your neighbors” as the flight would be “very turbulent,” before walking into the cockpit and shutting the door.
That didn’t sit well with passengers, as the flight was already delayed by two hours.
We have just been told that were heading straight for tornadoes and will likely be in the air an extra hour
— Elizabeth Svokos (@miss_svokos) August 23, 2017
The passenger who spoke with NJ.com said flight attendants attempted to soothe worried passengers by saying that it wasn’t unsafe to fly, but that the pilot just wanted them to know there’d be additional delays.
However, as the plane was preparing to taxi to the runway, the pilot announced that they’d have to return to the gate to address a maintenance issue.
Some passengers had had enough by that point, and told the crew they wanted to get off the plane. By that time, the pilot and flight attendants had already worked their allotted hours, so a new crew had to be swapped in for the trip to Chicago.
About 50 passengers decided to make alternate plans and deplaned. The flight eventually took off at 1:14 a.m., about 7 hours after it was originally scheduled.
United says it’s looking into the incident.
“We would never put our crew or our passengers in a situation where it was unsafe to fly,” a United Airlines spokesperson said in a statement. “The safety of the passengers and the crew is always our No. 1 priority.”
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