United Airlines deplanes passenger over bad toilet, blanket row
Customers are always right, so says the cliché. But that seems to be changing if the faceoff between United Airlines and a customer, Taylor Alfred Oladotun, reflects a new trend.
Oladotun, in Lagos last Sunday, boarded the flight bound for Washington, United States. Onboard, he complained about the poor condition of the bathroom and the non-availability of blankets, but before departure. For his audacity, Oladotun was allegedly thrown off the plane!
Globally, airlines are beginning to turn the heat on unruly passengers that have lately increased and cost operators huge losses. However, how the current case aligns with unruly conduct and threatens safety will have to be determined by a panel of inquiry.
Oladotun with Passenger Name Record (PNR) G5JWCK and assigned seat number 48L, noted on social media that he complained about the quality of service in anticipation of an apology.
“I complained about United Airlines’ faulty plane. But instead of an apology, I got thrown off the plane. The entire left-wing toilet on the plane was not functional, which created a natural panic, as there was a crazy queue around the only functional toilets.
“Also, there were no blankets, and there was no decent crewmember to pass on the message of this gross failure decently. I guess throwing out passengers that complain about terrible services is the only option available to the crewmembers.
“A crewmember told me that your ‘fellow passenger’ spoiled the toilet, so I should stop complaining about the wait. Sorry, I am not a ‘fellow passenger’ to anyone that I have not flown with.
“The choice of the word ‘fellow’ is profiling, insulting and generalising. All I needed was a bathroom. He did not also need to tell me that my Nigeria does not have engineers that can fix his clogged bath upon arrival. Hence, I have no reason to complain?” Oladotun said.
In a response to Oladokun, United Airlines reiterated that its main priority was safety, and would spare no customer that “threatens the safety of our employees or other passengers.”
According to the airlines’ Passenger Incident Review Committee (PIRC), “Based on the nature of the reported incident that occurred during boarding for flight 613 on October 2, 2022, this shall serve as a notice that you are not permitted to fly on United Airlines or any regional carrier operating as United Express until a review of this incident by United’s PIRC has occurred.
“Please, be advised that no single United employee can change your status. Only the PIRC has the ability to review the incident and consider reinstatement of your ability to fly on United or United Express in the future.
“The PIRC would like to consider your version of what occurred in this incident in making its determination. In order to ensure this information is considered a written report must be submitted within 96 hours of receiving this notice. Please, include the following: Your name, address, email and phone contacts, flight number, date, seat assignment of incident, summary of the incident, and witness names.
“Please, submit your report by responding to this e-mail. Once all information has been received by the PIRC, and the Committee has had the opportunity to investigate this incident, you will be advised of the Committee’s decision. Please refrain from booking future travel. If you currently hold travel reservations for a future date, you may request a refund,” the letter read in part.
The Guardian learnt that Oladokun has also lodged complaints with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and await a reaction from the local authorities.