Half-empty United Airlines flight from Newark to Tel Aviv returns to US after 90 minutes over ‘riot’ triggered when two economy passengers ‘self-upgraded’ to business class seats and refused to leave
- A United Airlines flight carrying 123 passengers from Newark, New Jersey to Tel Aviv, Israel turned back after two riders self-upgraded to business class
- The Israeli nationals caused a ‘riot’ after flight crew requested to see their tickets, a witness said
- Officials were waiting for the disruptive duo when the plane returned to Newark
- The flight was cancelled and affected passengers were given meal vouchers and hotel accommodations
- It was the second time in a week that poor passenger behavior caused an international flight to return to the US
An Israel-bound United Airlines plane that departed from Newark, New Jersey reversed course 90 minutes after takeoff after two economy-level passengers who moved into business class started a riot, reports say.
The half-empty flight had not yet reached the Canadian border January 20 when the unidentified Israeli nationals upgraded their seats and refused to show flight attendants their tickets, according to the The Jerusalem Post.
Fellow passenger Roi Lotan said a ‘riot’ started when the duo refused to comply with the flight crew’s directive en route to Tel Aviv.
‘The flight was half empty and there was room, so they probably just said to themselves “why not?” Lotan told Israeli outlet Channel 12.
The ruckus prompted the pilots to turn back near the Maine-New Brunswick border, FlightAware data shows.
A United Airlines plane carrying 123 passengers from New Jersey to Israel turned around within about 90 minutes of takeoff after two economy riders self-upgraded to business class
It’s the second time within a week that an international flight originating in the US was forced to turn around because of disruptive passenger behavior.
Last Wednesday, a flight from Miami to London turned around mid-trip after a passenger refused to comply with the federal mask mandate on planes.
Once the plane returned to Florida, police escorted the defiant passenger off the plane without incident.
Likewise, the Port Authority was called during the more recent incident aboard United flight 90, and met the plane when it returned to Newark, United said in a statement.
One witness theorized that the passengers felt it would be OK to move into business class, since vacant seats were available
Port Authority police met with the disruptive passengers once they returned to Newark
The drama began on a United Airlines Boeing 787 last Thursday (file photo)
The flight was cancelled; customers were given meal vouchers and hotel accommodations as staff worked to reschedule their trips, the airline said.
The plane was carrying 123 passengers and 11 crew members.
A quick United flight search shows business class flights from Newark to Tel Aviv can cost multitudes more than an economy seat.
A January 30 economy ticket from Newark to the Israeli city costs $1,062 roundtrip, compared to $10,670 for a United Polaris business seat. The price is double that of a business seat on similar flights.
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