Home Food and Beverage trends news United flight to Amsterdam reportedly diverted to Chicago over meal choice

United flight to Amsterdam reportedly diverted to Chicago over meal choice

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United flight to Amsterdam reportedly diverted to Chicago over meal choice


A United Airlines flight heading from Houston to Amsterdam was diverted to Chicago after an unruly business class passenger interrupted the flight, reportedly because his first meal choice was unavailable.

The flight took off at 4.20pm local time in Houston on Sunday, and was in Chicago airspace two hours into the flight. Flight tracking website Flightradar24 showed that the plane circled Chicago’s O’Hare airport as it had to use up fuel, known as dumping fuel, or it would have been too heavy to land.

Aviation insider XJonNYC posted internal United communications on Twitter that reported a “disruptive [passenger] on board” and a threat level of one, the lowest level of threat. In another tweet, he reported that the passenger seemed to be enraged over meal choice.

In a statement to the Guardian, United said: “United flight 20 from George Bush Intercontinental Airport to Amsterdam diverted to O’Hare International Airport and landed safely following a passenger disturbance. Law enforcement met the aircraft at the gate and escorted the passenger off the plane. The aircraft then continued to Amsterdam.”

According to Flightrader24, the flight ended up landing just over three hours after its scheduled arrival, touching down at about 12.30pm local time in Amsterdam. The typical total flight time for the trip is nine hours and 30 minutes.

While it is unclear exactly what meal the unruly passenger had gotten upset over, business class passengers on United are typically offered a full three-course meal in addition to more food throughout the flight.

The airline has faced criticism that its in-flight meals had failed to return to pre-pandemic norms and it announced last year it was upgrading its business class fare.

Travel review website Live and Let’s Fly reported that business class passengers flying from Newark to Amsterdam had a choice between seared beef short rib, seared lemon grass salmon, or ricotta salata and wild honey manicotti as their main meal. A one-way business class seat on the Houston to Amsterdam United flight typically costs $6,927.

The Federal Aviation Administration can impose fines on passengers for unruly behavior, up to $37,000 for each violation, with each incident having the potential for multiple violations. Passengers are also subject to being prosecuted on criminal charges.

The International Air Transport Association reported earlier this year that unruly passenger incidents increased 47% in 2022 compared with the year before, with an incident occurring once every 568 flights.



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