What went down on this United flight?

Check out this Flightglobal article, which talks about a United 767 diverting to Miami enroute from Chicago to Sau Paulo. What happened, you ask? A medical emergency? A threatening passenger? A mechanical issue? No, a purser that wasn’t respecting the captain’s authori-tah!

So how the hell does this happen? Generally even the worst flight attendants and pilots manage to ignore each other, but I think the “not respecting authority” part is a dead giveaway that the captain was a bit of you-know-what. If I had to speculate, I’d say the captain was on his break and somehow disagreed with the purser about something, and everything got blown out of proportion from there. It could be anything else, of course, but if he was actually in the cockpit their interaction would be so limited, so you’d really have to try hard to have a disagreement. Who knows, though, but based on the “authority” bit, I would guess this was a captain on a serious power trip, although I doubt the purser was an angel either.

This does raise a few other interesting questions. Was there another purser qualified flight attendant aboard? What the hell happened to the purser when they dumped him at MIA at around 3:30AM in the morning? Sucks to be him!

Any other theories, flight attendants (or passengers)?

(Tip of the hat to Elliot)

Filed Under: United
  1. Honestly, I can’t see a Captain who may be the biggest you-know-what on a power trip diverting a flight this unless the purser did something really egregious. He’s got to realize all the crap that he is about to put himself through. If it’s really just about being disrespected, I question the mental fitness of the captain. He’s got a carpet dance coming.

    Also makes me wonder about the CRM between the Captain and FO. Just imagine the flight deck discussions as the Captain tells the FO that they’re diverting to offload the purser.

  2. The flight departs GRU at 21:10 and arrives at ORD at 05:57. My guess is that the reporter subtracted two hours for time zone changes rather than adding two hours. The correct flying time is 10h47, which is (almost) exactly four hours more than what the article states.

  3. Sounds like the Captain was on a power trip. Isn’t MIA a UX only station? Where did the new crew member come from?

  4. @ Ripper3785 — Great points, I’m betting the truth is somewhere in the middle and that both were partly at faults. I don’t think anyone, flight attendant or pilot, would singlehandedly be dumb enough to cause something like this.

    @ Blake — Yeah, I picked up on that as well. I think Voyager is right….

    @ MatthewLAX — Yep, I thought it was kind of funny that they diverted to MIA, a station which used to be a hub to South America but now is down to United Express. I’m guessing they were staffed above FAA minimums and didn’t need a replacement FA.

    BTW, this whole thing makes me wonder how they explained the situation to the passengers. That must have been interesting….

  5. First time poster, been reading for a few months. Really like your blog!

    I wonder if it had anything to do with drugs or alcohol? Maybe the purser was intoxicated or somehow unfit to perform?

    But still, you think he’d just continue on and report it when they arrived, especially since they only had about 2 hours left on a 10 hour flight.

  6. @ BenW — Thanks for posting and thanks for reading for so long. I appreciate it. That’s an interesting idea, although based on the report that the purser wasn’t respecting the captain’s “authority,” I’m guessing it was more of a personal conflict. You never know, though.

    I wish we could hear from a passenger that was on this flight. I have a feeling that if someone posted the tone and attitude of the purser’s announcement along with the tone and attitude of the captain’s announcement (along with whether or not he turned on Channel 9), we’d know a bit more about who might have been on a power trip.

  7. Sounds like they are both are at fault in my opinion…sounds like two egos got in the way. What could have possibly have happened that was worth inconveniencing a whole flight full of people? The only way that the Captain could justify his actions is if the Flight Attendant was a “threat” to the flight! Even then, most airlines have handcuffs on board!

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