The United Airlines Newark-Israel Flight From Hell (VIDEO)
…and you think you had a rough flight to Israel?
Go talk to United Airlines passengers who suffered through a recent hellish Newark – Tel Aviv run with a chief pilot who refused to fly to Tel Aviv, and was seen in a passenger video being escorted off the plane by two policemen.
“…we boarded the flight, and a technical malfunction delayed the takeoff; we missed our slot, another hour and a half delay; we begin to roll, and another snafu pops up…” traveler Amir Ofer told Israel’s Channel Two News.
“We were held on the plane as if we were hostages,” Roni Meital told the reporter.
And, unbelievably, things went downhill from there until they landed in Tel Aviv the beginning of last week.
“A few of the passengers tried to get off the flight, but they were threatened that if they deplaned, they would not be able to get back on,” Meital said.
Finally the passengers deplaned.
“At about ten o’clock, they began to drag the passengers all over the airport,” said Noa Goldshmidt. “They made us stand on line for vouchers and told us that the flight was delayed until 9 o’clock the next morning.”
While some went to the airport hotel, others opted to sleep in the departure lounge, and not chance missing their flight. They needn’t have worried.
“…we were then told that the flight was delayed to 12:30 because there was a problem with the crew,” Goldshmidt said. “Then they told us that the plane was malfunctioning, and transferred us to another aircraft.”
Then the problem with the pilot was revealed.
“We were waiting for a long time, and finally the staff came out and told us that the pilot had refused to turn the engines on because he did not want to fly to Tel Aviv,” one passenger said.
In the end, the 213 passengers had to endure three security checks in order to board three separate aircraft.
For their part, United spokesmen said flight UA84 “was cancelled due to adverse weather conditions at Newark Liberty International Airport,” adding that “Our customer service team at New York/Newark provided assistance to customers and overnight hotel accommodation.”
United said that “the pilot was not removed from the cockpit,” despite the cellphone clip showing the pilot walking down the aisle accompanied by two uniformed policemen.
According to one passenger, it was unclear if the pilot’s refusal to spin up the jet engines stemmed from a possible labor dispute or unwillingness to fly to Israel.
Claiming that the flight “was originally affected by adverse weather and then an ongoing maintenance delay necessitated our decision to replace the plane and crew,” United said they “provided meal vouchers to assist customers.”
“The aircraft was then swapped for another and as a result of the ongoing delay the flight crew exceeded their legally permitted duty hours.”
But, finally, “The aircraft departed New York/Newark on June 14, 2014 at 8:11 p.m. as flight UA2080 and arrived in Tel Aviv at 1:59 p.m. local time on June 15, 11 hours 34 minutes late,” according to United.
“On flights to Israel, passengers usually cheer when the plane lands. Here’s they cheered when it took off,” Meital said.
Watch a video from the episode below: