Newark, New Jersey-bound United flight 87 was boarding at Shanghai Pudong International Airport but had to be delayed after an unruly passenger wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat caused a ruckus. It was one of the funnier airline passenger dispute situations of the year, as passengers reacted with humor to a man who may have been copycatting another recent airline incident in which that passenger received a huge payout.
The unidentified man was boarding the aircraft when he refused to comply with the crew’s instructions, according to United spokesman Jonathan Guerin. When the passenger was asked to get off of the plane, he “became increasingly disruptive,” said Guerin. “For safety and security reasons, local law enforcement was called to assist, and the customer eventually left the aircraft on his own accord.”
All of the other passengers had to get off the plane, too.
One passenger, Clark Gredoña, hilariously described the events as they unfolded before posting it to Facebook along with a variety of photos and video taken of the man yelling at everyone.
According to Gredoña, the man claimed that because “he couldn’t get an upgrade, he’s entitled to all three seats next to him even though they’re assigned to somebody else.”
Everyone on the plane who had a cellphone was taking photos and video of the man as he shouted, “I am entitled to that seat,” and screamed at fellow passengers.
When police arrived, Gredoña said that the passengers all applauded. After everyone got off the aircraft, passengers inside the airport began jeering at him, some even screaming, “Lock him up!”
“We’re grateful for the patience shown by our customers who endured the disruptive behavior of this passenger, as well as the exceptional poise and professionalism of our flight crew,” Guerin said.
“Finally reboarding and will get there 7 hours late, but we’ll get there,” wrote Gredoña, adding, “Probably thinking that I’m hungry, the older Chinese lady (who can’t speak any English) sitting next to me offered me a cookie.” The plane had to make an unscheduled stop in San Francisco for a crew change before flying to Newark.
“Unclear if the guy was eventually arrested, but gossip amongst the passengers is that Chinese police did not want to create an international incident on the plane, so rather than arrest him on the plane, they waited the man to deplane as they had jurisdiction inside of the airport,” Gredoña added.
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