This morning I flew from Los Angeles to Denver on United Airlines in first class. Breakfast was served onboard. When my seatmate wound up with his second choice, he threw a hissy fit for the ages.
A Hissy Fit Over Breakfast On United Airlines
I knew this guy would be trouble when I boarded the flight. I had the window seat and he had the aisle seat. On United’s Boeing 737 MAX 9, the first class seats feature underseat storage divided into three areas, with shared space between seats.
This man had taken a Larry Craig stance and his left foot was occupying the entire shared space area. It remained there the entire flight. I just chuckled to myself and said nothing.
We took off and breakfast orders were taken. Both of us ordered eggs (the choice was between egg whites or a waffle). After taking orders, the flight attendant returned to the man and apologized that there were not enough eggs. He was offered the waffle instead.
You could almost see the steam rising from the man’s head…
He turned red, slammed down his tray table, and proceeded to lecture the flight attendant:
“I hate this airline. Why can’t you load enough breakfasts for everyone?! You know I gave up on United after the pilot’s strike. Now after all these years I decided to come back and look how you treat me. Nothing has changed! This is [expletive]! I’m never going to fly United again!”
[editor’s note – folks, the pilot’s strike was in 1985…and if flight attendants only had a dollar for every time they heard that threat they could retire.]
The flight attendant could not have handled the matter better, offering empathy and a sincere apology. When the man turned down the waffle, the flight attendant asked if he could bring him some fruit. The man screamed:
“No! No! No! I’m diabetic!”
Coffee? Nope. He said, “I’ll just have water.” When the flight attendant brought it over, he downed it in seconds like a college drinking game and hastily handed it back to the flight attendant, who was serving breakfast to the passengers in the row behind.
Look, if you read this blog you know I care about in-flight meals a lot. I hate to miss out on my first choice too. But it’s just an airline meal on a flight under two hours….you were given other options.
Now there is room for criticism for United too, here. United has begun to roll out its advance-ordering tool for meals on flights over 1,500 miles but it needs to roll this out systemwide. If passengers can pre-order the meal choice they want, they will not be set up for disappointment onboard.
For the record, the eggs were delicious.
It was a sad spectacle to see a middle-aged man throw a hissy fit over an airline breakfast. Kudos to the flight attendant for handling the matter so professionally. Nevertheless, perhaps United can use this as a learning moment: give passengers the option to pre-order meals on all flights in which meals are offered.
Finally someone meets UA-NYC in person!
That made me chuckle.
For the sake of peace in the kingdom, I always say if you run out m, I’ll take 2nd choice. No big deal
It’s a fine line, though, right? Because we’re told to abstain from eating meat sacrificed to idols or drinking alcohol if it causes our brother to stumble…but if a brother becomes so outlandish in his demands, I’m not sure peace is the highest aim. Maybe the best thing I could have done was told him his conduct was really churlish (Proverbs 12:1).
His conduct was jejune (Cumstein 14:2)
Waaahhhhh….good one Dave!
Nice Senator Wide Stance reference Matthew. I hope you ate yours slowly and savored every bite!
LOL but I don’t think so. The man on this article wasn’t a rampant racist.
UA-NYC isn’t a rampant racist. Nice try, Jan.
UA-NYC sure seems to hate White people. Does that count?
He/she doesn’t hate white people.
Comment of the week! :)))
I’m not laughing. Let’s attack ideas, not posters. UA-NYC should not be attacked, especially when he is not present.
Your site. Your rules. But it would be nice if you defended with the same vigor, the people this person attacks on a frequent basis.
I have told him as well that the personal attacks, like those against Dave’s wife, were not appropriate.
Now THAT was funny.
Tell him don’t fly DL. He might have an cor0nary when he sees the cold boxed garbage they’re serving in FC and passing off as a real meal.
I had that dish on Sunday SFO-DCA. It was good. Waffle was the other choice too. I had done the pre order, but when the flight attendant came to me she said “Oh, I see you pre-ordered; I’ll try to guarantee you get it”. hmmm. but i got it and it was good.
That would have been a big problem if she did not give it to you.
I hope you told him that waffles are the cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast.
It’s hard to pre-order a meal when you’re at the gate waiting for an upgrade to clear. Just saying…
Not to foreshadow, but Sunday’s blog post will be:
Never Flying Again: United Major Fail Loading Breakfasts
I thought to myself–‘what was Matthew’s response when he didn’t get eggs?’
Then I got to your last sentence and the picture and it caused me to smile and chuckle. Hopefully you didn’t endure the wrath of this gentleman as a result!
Obviously you are not diabetic. And United does suck.
If you are diabetic, then the meal you eat should be in your control. What if UAs options were waffles or another sweet main course?
This is on him regardless of his petty outburst
The pilot’s strike – LOL – I miss those old school UA anachronisms
@ Matthew — Yeah, airline food is not so great, so I’ve gotten to the point I really don’t care about my choice. You never know which choice will actually taste best until you try it anyways. If you are diabetic, you probably shouldn’t be eating airline food.
Matthew, what percentage or dollar value do you place on the meal component of the first class flying experience?
Gary wrote over the weekend about making the meal a la carte pricing, to improve the quality of the food served. I asked the same question there, but too late…everyone had moved on!
Personally, I don’t value the food onboard in domestic/lower 48 first at much beyond $20 or so, placing much higher value on the seat, IFE, beverage selection, earlier boarding, etc. The food? I’ll eat in a lounge, hopefully the airport I’m at has options that my status or cards will allow entry.
What do you say?
He ain’t middle age if he was already flying United enough to stop in 1985…old white guys are the worst. Let me guess, he was overweight, thinning gray hair, Rolex, crossed his arms a lot…they are on every flight.
1. Was “Untied Airlines” in the first sentence merely a typo?
2. In the 1980s my company flew us first class and a co-worker and I flew a number of times SFO-ORD-ROC on American. On the third trip back east my co-worker was in the last row (right behind me) and I heard the flight attendant apologize saying that not enough first class breakfasts had been provisioned. My co-worker was known for having a slight temper and I was just waiting to hear what was going to happen when th\ise voice boomed out “then steal something from steerage.”
Some type of breakfast was provided.
A common typo. Thanks.
The FA showed a lot of restraint by not stating it’s just food,not love. It’s not the airline’s fault he doesn’t have people that care enough to cook a carb controlled diet for this prize individual.
Larry Craig! HAHAHAHAHA
I visited the Senator Larry Craig rest room at MSP. It’s by the Snoopy statue. Police reports said it was the end stall but I didn’t know which end stall so I went to both. My shoes were not sticky after that.
You got off easy, so to speak.
I saw what you did there…. Nice.
Matthew, how did you not look him dead in the eye, take a bite of eggs and say, “That was… eggstraordinary.”??
Lol. I didn’t want to start a fight!
You know what I don’t think they will adjust the numbers if 100% of first class customers use the pre order feature.
Catering totally sucks. There is no way they are that organized.
I know there will always be this kind of confrontation, so I offer to defer my meal to the “Karen” or “Ken” in First.
I’ll take the fruit and yogurt, if it spares the flight crew an awful apology about a meal.
You’re a kinder person than me. I briefly considered it, then figured there was no way I was going to reward this guy’s juvenile behavior.
That’s why I enjoy your unbiased reviews!
I’d have offered him a sausage link. It would have gone great with the waffle drenched in syrup. Yes, syrup. For his diabetes! And also the tomato! I hate tomatoes.
What an ass! This is why when COVID came along, we told our clients “no more flying.” We’ve done just fine.
This is what happens when you wear white socks…
It’s a 737, not a 7-11!
Anyone that understands our upgrade culture in the US, will get that there is not 200% catering for each flught. 32 F Class meals for 16 seats is just bad economics. What would happen to those extra meals?
Take one for the team, “Ken”, or just bring your own food.
No one is suggesting UA provision 200%. But they could at least get the ratios closer to demand or just give the extras to the crew. AFAIK, pax and crew meals are separate and cannot be substituted.
I recently flew domestic first and was only given the option of waffle. It was delicious (but much too sweet). Now I’m wondering if there were eggs and the FA knew they’d run out (I was in the 3rd row of a 777 for heaven’s sake).
UA has always bungled the ratios IMO. E.g. 12 veg salads vs 8 burgers. With that being said, apparently AA wasn’t provisioning enough veg options. On flights to India! Does it really take a rocket scientist to know that more people like/want/need eggs than waffles? SMH.
You would think they would have more popular choices but I think they just go with what they have.
I have written up stuff many times and things never seem to change. You know how many times I have run out of Baileys ( they provide 2) and written it up. Hey done worry we have 86 vodkas though!!!
Hissy fit aside, I’d be annoyed too. Some of us can’t have gluten.
And providing for such exceptions is your responsibility.
Bring your own food if you have a food restriction, for Godsakes.
I work for the airline and I have to say the darn waffle he passed up on is my favorite thing we have offered in first class in years!!!! Belgium waffle in banana bourbon sauce yum!!!!
I love it too, but I love the egg whites even more. Wish I could have had both. I should have asked him if he could order me some waffles, lol!
I would have given you both if I was working the flight!!
If it were me, I would have switched to the waffle. Not so much to accommodate your seatmate, but to make the flight easier for the FA. I’ve taken the “other” choice many times over the years when I could help. To me, it’s just airline food. YMMV.
I’m glad you said that. Yeah, why didn’t you offer the eggs to him and take his waffles????? By doing so, you would have sent the messages, “what’s the big deal, dude? it’s airline food and you’re being an a**hole for making it an issue.”
Switching meals with him would send the message, “Throw a fit, and you will get your way.” It’s no different than giving in to a child who is having a tantrum when an adult says no!
Wish I was sitting next to him. I would have politely asked the flight attendant to kindly give my eggs to him and switched. And then when he was eating asked him to kindly quit flying united as I would appreciate sitting next to an adult that acted like one. And quietly go back to my waffle. What an ass.
I never eat on a plane. Makes my life easier. Nothing served is worth eating anyway.
You’ve been on the wrong flights if nothing is ever worth eating!
Yes, US airlines. Tell what is worth eating or drinking on their flights. Flew first class on United domestic two weeks ago. Got a stroopwafel, a cookie and a small bottle of Dasani water. Tell me what is good about that. And yes, I flew many times prior the pandemic on international business class flights (all US airlines). Wines you find at you local liquor store for less than $10/bottle and food that is not appealing. If you are lucky to fly Emirates, Qatar, SIN, ANA, then it is another story.
Not everyone in the US flies in International J or LAX-JFK premium routes on a regular basis.
I thought Santastico was from somewhere in South America and lived there…
He was just a spoiled brat of a man. As a diabetic, I know that diabetics can eat anything in moderation. Looking at the fruit bowl offered, he could have had fruit (and the blueberries would have been especially good for his blood glucose levels). Even the waffle, which would be high in carbohydrates, could have been eaten by him provided he would use the syrup in moderation. But clearly, moderation with regard to anything is not in that gentleman’s skill set. And a good walk at his destination would help manage his glucose levels!
American Soldiers are eating MRE’s, sir.
I’m old enough to have had the first generation of those. Chicken ala king was the best of the dozen. At the time, we thought they were decent, but the ones on offer these days are positively luxurious in comparison!
I would have killed for a warm breakfast! Delta is still doing their cold boxes, which I’m so over at this point. Granted, I wouldn’t want the waffles either because I can’t eat them. I wouldn’t of thrown a fit and at least taken the fruit. I had a similar experience once on a flight to LA. Person next to me was upset that I got the last sandwich for purchase.
I just flew Delta F and they ran out of the meal choice for both my spouse and I. Not a big deal, but I was wondering how does the flight attendant decide who can’t have their first choice? We were in row 1.
Other people smarter than me (OK, they fly more often!) refer to the phenomenon as “FEBO.”
Front – Even
Back – Odd
Even numbered flight number? FA starts serving from the front
Odd numbered flight number? FA serves from the back
Or so we’ve been trained to expect our meal. Which is why wifey and I sit in row 2-3-4 whenever possible, that way FEBO rules, which may or may not be a thing, may not impact us so much. As always, YMMV
No that’s not the way it’s supposed to work. Front to back ensuring the “ heavy hitters” get dibs.
Had recent experience on AA in first (MIA-SFO) where they served starting in the back, and told everyone “we have two choices but you really shouldn’t select the second one”. Sure enough by middle of row 3 they were out of the first choice. Being in row 2, we had one choice: a literally frozen rock solid beef and quinoa dish. In a plastic container so the FA could not heat it to thaw it. Heard from another FA later that our experience was not unique – they had had the frozen rock solid beef/quinoa on 2 other flights out of MIA. Unlike UA, AA didn’t have the buy-on-board boxes from coach to offer. Having flown UA and AA in first a few times in last couple months, can’t say anything but bad things about AA.
UA (and I think others) prioritize as follows:
1) high elites
2) other revenue pax
Over the years I’ve found FAs are very diligent about this. They’re supposed to take requests back to front and prioritize later but they sometimes bounce around the cabin. Probably easier to use up all your eggs (literally) so you can stop giving choices! So even it if appears the FA is going back to front, they are not actually giving preference in that order. Although for category 2, I guess it is first come first served. And on UA, I’ve never seen FAs start in the back for drink or meal service. One reason I like row 2: underseat storage, 1st in line for drinks
To clarify on UA:
Rest of revenues (no other elites get preference)
ALL orders are supposed to be taken front to back, asking for first and alternate choice if there’s more than two choices. Then the FA is supposed to work out the selctions in the galley, out of view. If you’ve pre-ordered, your selection should be secure and not part of the regular meal count. Plain and simple.
I love those waffles. I think they’re one of the best meals United has ever offered. That said, I almost always order the eggs as my first choice. The waffles would make a fantastic dessert or afternoon snack, but they tend to make me a little sick early in the morning since they’re so deliciously sweet. United has increased the number of eggs lately, but they haven’t increased it nearly enough. I think they went from 60% waffles to 60% eggs, but they need to make it about 70-80% eggs.
You could have given up your eggs, but chances are, your seatmate wasn’t next on the list in terms of status and seating to receive the eggs.
if you are picky you can and should decline airline food.
anyone paying for first class and then being surprised by the level
of service needed to be served the first class straightjacket.
All airlines suck. The industry is disintegrating. From the narrow seats to the horrible food, the complaining passengers, lost luggage and excessively high ticket costs, if you can even find a flight.
My first job out of high school was working in the reservations department of Ansett Australia. In the 4 years that I worked there, I have to laugh now at how many calls were from “middle aged men having a hissy fit” over the slightest detail. I came to the conclusion very early on, that many business men in Australia thought themselves above everybody else on the flight just because they were traveling by air. I can accept now that I’m older that there may have been some people who had a genuine reason to be irate over an issue, such as a cancelled or delayed flight. But there were many others who simply enjoyed being given an opportunity to whine about the most trivial of issues. Yet back then in Australia, there were only two domestic airlines in Australia. So when they brought out the “I’m never flying Ansett Australia ever again”, we all knew that they would fly Australian Airlines (later to become Qantas) only until the same threats to them no longer worked and they were back in our airline cabins. Ain’t karma a bitch?
If he is a diabetic, and acted like this, he likely had high blood sugar. There eggs were likely a salvation. There waffles would forget spoke his sugars. He was probably scared and the way he behaved was most likely uncontrollable.
It sucks to be a diabetic. It’s why diabetes is covered in the ads law.
Having said that, nobody should be a dick.
I was on a ORD-SFO flight ten years ago this month in F. Six p.m. or so, quintessential long haul dinner flight (at least in F). Completely full, of course, and lots of hungry guys. I could tell the flight attendant didn’t like where this was going. She went through the cabin, asking people what they wanted based on their Mileage Plus status.
I turned out I was at the bottom of the pecking order. She came to me and said, “Honey, you ain’t got enough stars next to your name. You’re getting the lasagna.”
I don’t think I stopped laughing for the next 4 hours.
Rolling out advance ordering systemwide is not a bulletproof solution. Anyone who gets upgraded will most likely not be able to participate. So there will always be a danger of flights running out of meals in Biz Class…
I would have offered him my meal to enjoy .
Is his name Ken and was his wife’s name Karen?? LOL
As the spouse of a diabetic person, keeping your blood sugar at a manageable level at all time is paramount. Before anyone judges this man too harshly, no one here knows what kind of day this man was having. Perhaps he had to rush to get to the airport and didn’t have the time to get something healthy? Perhaps he had a tight connection when the plane landed and might not have time to get something? OTOH, it doesn’t give this guy an excuse to be a jerk, and he should have some snack options in his carryon for just such a contingency.
As Matthew mentions, UA has been slowly – slowly(!) – rolling out pre-orders. They should have done this a LONG time ago! Pre-pandemic, I used to take UA in F pretty frequently (most of the time paid and not an upgrade), and this was when they were trying their disastrous Indian food experiment. I didn’t want it. Nobody else in F wanted it. the FAs I asked all said nobody wanted it. It got to the point where I asked the FA upon boarding that I’d like whatever the other food option is besides the Indian food. Pre-ordering makes so much sense. You get what you want (hopefully!), FAs don’t have to deal with disappointing pax, and the food that nobody wants to begin with doesn’t go to waste.
Correction – meant to say, “As the spouse of a diabetic person, I’m acutely aware of why keeping your blood sugar at a manageable level at all times is paramount.”