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.