An Unpleasant Welcome Home

November 5, 2009

in Attendant & Pilot Stories

I was returning from almost three years of tours in Iraq and Afghanistan on United Airlines from Frankfurt to Dulles and was feeling lucky to have been able to upgrade to business class. The flight was fairly pleasant until a few hours before we landed when a new, male flight attendant appeared. I was recovering from pink eye and he decided that since my eyes were red I must be drunk and refused to refill my wine glass. I had had two or three small glasses during the previous 6 hours but was certainly not drunk. As I had just lost several friends in a hostile incident where I was working, I was not feeling particularly patient or willing to put up with foolishness.

 When I argued with him he became extremely rude. I put on my headphones, annoyed and planning to write a complaint letter to the airline, but apparently the flight attendant was not done with his power trip. He had the pilot call ahead to have security ready to escort me off the plane, claiming that I had tried to break into the cockpit! After enduring the embarrassment of being escorted off the plane and rudely questioned, I was then told that the flight attendant had retracted his story. Apparently he was not quite brave enough to actually put his false report in writing, given the hundreds of witnesses who could testify to the contrary. After being briefly detained I was released, but I was mostly annoyed that the flight attendant was not arrested or detained even after admitting he had lied just to get security to come to the gate. I was already distraught over the loss of my friends and this very unpleasant welcome home made my transition from war back to normal life more difficult.

United has given me nothing but generic responses to my complaints. They should be deeply ashamed to have that kind of person working for them and I will, under no circumstances, ever fly them again. When I recently returned to Iraq, I flew from Washington to New York, just to avoid United.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Hugh November 6, 2009 at 12:31 am

Thank you for your service. God bless you and your comrades in uniform. That weasel of a FA should be gutted.


Jodi November 6, 2009 at 5:37 am

I am so sorry you went through all that. Thank you so much for all you have done for your country.


ceda November 6, 2009 at 7:14 am

Something sounds horribly wrong here…you can't just be annoyed at the flight attendant – it is imperative that you follow up. Flight attendants now have too much authority and we all know that authority in the wrong hands can cause turmoil for many…power trips are unacceptable. When the situation occurred you should have demanded that the flight attendant be handled immediately! How is it that any disagreement with any flight attendant can have one led off the plane and embarrased…too much power…please please please follow up on this…make a big stink about it…this is not ok…


DSD November 8, 2009 at 9:54 am

Thank you for your service and I am sorry to hear about your time in the desert. I agree with the others I think you should be demanding more than a form letter appologising. I think you should be demanding the termination of the FA, or threaten some sort of legal action against the airline. I'm not normally someone who thinks of legal action, but someone who is so willing to fabricate something just to put a smile on their face, especially against a US soldier should NOT have the ability to make those kinds of false claims ever again.


alim November 8, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Thank you for ur service and i am sorry for ur friends in Afghanistan. I would be so pissed of at the FA and would have punched him in the face cuz u serve the country he lives in so peacefully. United should be ashmed.


JL November 13, 2009 at 1:33 pm

As others have said, thank you for your service. This issue should not be dropped. You should follow up with United Airlines at the highest levels. FAs have a hard job dealing with the public but since it's been pounded in their heads that they're security professionals first, customer service professionals second, I think it has gone to some of their heads. I recommend you use the contacts on Chris Elliott's blog and write to the customer service manager and carbon copy both the V.P. and President of United.

Here's the link to the information:


S.M. December 28, 2009 at 5:00 am

I agree with the rest of the posters on here. The problem is that flight attendants now have way too much power. They can easily have people arrested upon landing just by their word that someone caused them any type of disturbance yet there are no legal repercussions when they exaggerate or even lie. If a law enforcement official does the same thing they can be fired or even get in legal trouble for abuse of their authority yet flight attendants wield this same power to have someone arrested and don’t face any consequence if they abuse their authority. It’s time to fix that!!!


Jay February 1, 2010 at 10:17 am

Something in the story isn't quite adding up. Military service personnel that I have had on board are usually over-the-top polite and don't "demand" alcohol or service. In addition, there are regulations to follow on an aircraft and not serving a passenger who appears to be intoxicated is a regulation. If you had already had 2-3 glasses of wine (which, if someone has a drinking issue, may already be exaggerating the number lower than it actually was) then the flight attendant has a duty to not serve. Certainly you can respect that, as a law that a passenger must follow just as you did as a soldier.


guest April 11, 2013 at 1:45 pm

If you re-read the letter he did say that he was annoyed but accepted it and put his headphones on to relax the rest of the trip. The a$$hole FA is the one who went a step further and made up a story just to get him arrested. Yeah, the problem was with the soldier.


Lisa August 11, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Jay: Shut the hell up and keep your mouth shut until you get some common sense.


Justiceiro September 20, 2013 at 8:49 am

First i don´t understand why people are thanking you for what you did for your country. Iraq was never a threat.US decided to invade and destroy a country based on lies. Soldiers are not heroes. The vast majority are just kids who think they are going to have a blast…well sometines they really do, unfortunetely.
On the other hand, FAs abuse their powers, like in so many other professions, like soldiers, cops, security guards and so on….these kind of people must be punished


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