Travel Blogger Thrown Off United Flight for Taking Pics

On a United Airlines flight from Newark to Istanbul, a passenger was asked to deplane after taking pictures of his seat and surroundings. A flight attendant asked Matthew Klint to stop using his camera, and pointed to this blurb in Hemisphere, United's in-flight magazine:

   United-photo-limitsAccording to Klint's version of events, he smiled at the flight attendant and stopped taking pictures. But, a while later, he did ask her to hang up his coat and continued the conversation:

"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."

A Global Services representative then asked Klint to leave the plane: "The captain is not comfortable with you on this flight. You'll need to gather your things, and we'll find another way to get you to Istanbul." Klint then had a conversation with the captain, which you can read in Klint's blog post. During the conversation, the captain (apparently, not making eye contact) said that the flight attendant asked Klint to stop pictures, but he did not. Klint said, "Your FA is lying-I did not disobey any crewmember instruction." This continues to be a topic of debate.

Others on the flight seem to agree with Klint's telling of the story. In an NBC News article about the incident, Klint admits, "perhaps I should not have used the term ‘terrorist.'"

Klint has reported good contact with United, which is conducting an investigation. In the meantime, Klint has an interesting perspective on corporate apologies and says he doesn't expect one from United:

"At this point, United has not offered an apology and frankly I am not expecting one. An apology would reflect horribly on the pilot and FA and I do understand the delicacy of corporate apologies in general. United did express an appreciation for my loyalty and a desire to see me continue to fly on the carrier."

Well, Matthew, there are many types of apologies.

Image source.

Discussion Starters:

  • Based on Klint's version of the story, did United do the right thing? Could the airline have done anything differently?
  • We haven't heard much from United yet. What could be the airline's position?
  • How could United apologize without reflecting "horribly on the pilot and FA," as Klint says?