A pilot’s warning of tornadoes and harsh weather conditions terrified passengers on board a United Airlines plane.
The pilot of the jet, delayed in Chicago, that was heading to Newark International Airport said the plane would fly through “horrific storms including tornadoes,” NJ.com reported, citing passengers.
After the announcement, a flight attendant attempted to counter the pilot’s announcement to calm fears of people on board the plane, passenger Pamela Kent told NJ.com.
“He seemed angry,” said Kent. “He said ‘we’re going to be flying through horrific storms including tornadoes.'”
Another passenger, Elizabeth Svokos, wrote on Twitter about her experience. “We have just been told that were heading straight for tornadoes and will likely be in the air an extra hour,” she wrote, adding that “it’s very hot on this plane.”
The pilot also told passengers to “get to know your neighbors,” saying the trip would be “very turbulent,” Kent added. After that, he walked inside the cockpit and shut the door.
“It was a general feeling of being rattled,” she said. “You want a pilot to have confidence. There was not that feeling.”
United Airlines told NJ.com that it would probe the alleged incident. “We would never put our crew or our passengers in a situation where it was unsafe to fly,” United Airlines spokeswoman Natalie Noonan was quoted as saying. “The safety of the passengers and the crew is always our No. 1 priority.”
The plane was supposed to leave at 5:54 p.m. but took off 1:14 a.m. the next day. The plane landed in Newark at 3:58 a.m.
The airliner has been under fire this year after a series of public relations gaffes. In February, one United pilot was removed after she ranted over the intercom system about her divorce and the recent presidential election. “Sorry I’m late. The reason I’m late is I’m going through a divorce,” the pilot said, according to reports at the time.
“So I’ll stop, and we’ll fly the plane. Don’t worry. I’m going to let my co-pilot fly it. He’s a man,” she then laughed. “Okay, if you don’t feel safe, then get off the airplane. But otherwise we can go.”
In the airliner’s most widely-publicized PR disaster, a doctor who refused to give up his seat was dragged from a plane by security, bloodying his face.
In June, a wheelchair-bound woman sued the company after claiming an airport employee dropped her. “Once he got me totally upright, I just saw this look of panic in his face,” Erica Fulton told WFLA. “I said, ‘Oh my God, he’s gonna drop me.”
United responded to her claims, saying: “We sincerely apologize to Ms. Fulton for her experience while traveling with us and have covered the cost of the repair to the wheelchair.”