Live and Let’s Fly has been silent the last three days as I weighed how I wanted to cover what happened to me on a United Airlines flight from Newark to Istanbul last week. The situation was both traumatizing and highly embarrassing and I wanted to ensure that I had ample time to consider what transpired before hurling any accusations or failing to understand the other side. But frankly, the more I replay the incident in my mind, the more certain I become that I was wronged. Here’s my story:
Last Thursday I was scheduled to fly from Newark to Istanbul on United’s direct flight. The 767-300 was outfitted in a two-cabin configuration, staffed by a legacy United crew, and I had been upgraded to business class. It was my first time on this reconfigured aircraft and my first longhaul in the Continental BusinessFirst seat. Naturally, I wanted to provide a review for you.
As I settled into my seat, I pulled out my iPhone to take a few pictures of the seat. When I held the phone at forehead level to take the picture below, a flight attendant came running over and told me that I could not take any pictures of the cabin. She referenced this section of the Hemispheres magazine:
The allegedly off-limits picture:
I looked at the FA, smiled, but said nothing, putting my iPhone away. To be clear, I did not take any more pictures—not a single one. Meanwhile, another passenger was taking pictures behind the curtain and the FA ran over to him and demanded that he stop as well. This passenger had a lively discussion with the FA, though I did not hear the resolution.
Naturally, the FA’s warning bothered me and I felt the need to explain myself. I signaled for her to come back and asked her to hang my coat. I then said this verbatim—
“I want you to understand why I was taking pictures. I hope you didn’t think I was a terrorist. Here is my business card [offering her one]. I write about United Airlines on an almost-daily basis and the folks at United in Chicago are even aware of my blog.”
She took my jacket but refused to take my business card saying, “No, that’s okay,” then saying, “I did not know that” after I explained my reason for taking pictures. I again emphasize, I took no more pictures.