United Airlines pilot forced to intervene when political dispute disrupts flight to Mexico


A United Airlines pilot urged his passengers to remain calm and keep their political views to themselves after a dispute erupted ahead of an international flight following the presidential election.

Footage posted to YouTube shows the pilot addressing passengers over the intercom, telling them to "let cooler heads prevail" following a politically charged dispute on board the flight, which was headed from San Francisco to Puerta Vallarta, Mexico.

Jon Bauer, the YouTube user who posted the video, said a scuffle broke out when someone with a " 'plaid shirt and camo cap' said something racist (about being 'glad to have kept his guns') to an African American lady", and the woman began to cry.

In the video, the pilot can be heard banning political discussion on his plane, at a time when tensions have erupted over Donald Trump's election.

"We're going to be in a metal tube at 35,000 feet," the pilot says. "I understand everybody has their opinions, that's fine. If you support him, great. If you don't, I understand. However, we're out here to go to Puerta Vallarta to have a good time."

In an emailed statement, United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy confirmed that a United pilot intervened in a situation aboard the flight.

"Our pilot was attempting to diffuse an argument between two customers and get everyone safely to their destination," she wrote. McCarthy did not elaborate on what prompted the intervention.

The pilot can be heard imploring passengers to be respectful of one another, and keep their political views to themselves for the duration of the flight.

"Let cooler heads prevail and we can talk and realize that we're all human beings, and we all can stick together and we can all feel for this country in our own way and that's what we should do," he said. "If there's anybody that has a problem with this. . .there's another flight tomorrow. You're not going to be on this one."

Following the message, the passengers break into applause, and one can be heard shouting "hear, hear."

McCarthy said no one was removed from the flight, and she was not aware of any other similar post-election incidents on United flights.

Authors Information:

Lori Aratani writes about how people live, work and play in the D.C. region for The Post's Transportation and Development team.

Faiz Siddiqui is a metro reporter covering transportation and local issues. He has previously contributed to NPR, The Boston Globe and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Faiz Siddiqui, Lori Aratani




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