One of the most difficult dilemmas when working in a customer-facing role is where to draw the line on the “consumer is always right” mentality. In the case of one United Airlines captain, a gratuitous insult by a 1K member proved to be the line.
United Captain Puts Premier 1K Member In His Place
A United pilot who has posted on FlyerTalk for years and flies Boeing 757s and 767s for United shared the following story:
The other day I was kicking off a trip, and we had a combat wounded veteran flying in the Polaris cabin. The GA [gate agent] who is a friend of mine made me aware of his presence.
Boarding was underway, but I had a few minutes and wanted to introduce myself one veteran to another, and thank him for his service. I did so, and we had a pleasant exchange.
As I turned to head back to the flight deck, a passenger two rows ahead, who had clearly heard our conversation says rather loudly, “Hey Captain, why are you thanking him? I’m a United 1K, and spend 45K a year flying your airline, where is my thanks?”
To be honest, his comment stopped me in my tracks, and for a second I didn’t know what to say. I smiled at him, said thank you, and that while I appreciated his business, I also appreciated the sacrifice a solider made in defense of our country.
His reply? “Who cares guys like me pay your salary.” I looked him square in the eye, and told him to fly another airline next time.
What a sad man that passenger is. It would be one thing if the United captain was thanking others for their business and skipped over him, if he does indeed spend that much (I doubt it..). But the pilot thanked the veteran for his military service, not his business.
United has told flight attendants and pilots to recognize 1K members, but that does not give passengers the right to be rude. The “who cares” line really rubbed me the wrong way.
Maybe the captain should have just walked away and not told him to go fly another airline. But the captain’s anger was righteous and I support him 100%.
I’m also a 1K member with United and I too love a word of thanks from a captain or flight attendant for my business. Yet I never demand it and find the disgruntled passenger’s conduct deplorable here. Soldiers do not send themselves to war…they go where they are assigned. Many never return home or return home very different than when they left. Thanking a soldier for his or her service does not imply anything more than being thankful for that soldier’s service.
Kudos to the captain.
As a combat disabled vet a million miler on AS kudos to the United Captain and thumbs down to that passenger. One of issues in todays society is “its all about me” or “look at me” I wonder if he is paying for all his trips or the company he works for?
Reading just the title, I thought this was about your ill-fated trip to Istanbul.
Why do guys like this need their egos stroked so much? Why does some random employee thanking them give them such a hardon? I’ll take a compliment or thanks for the biz…but to actively need it and seek it out is borderline psychotic. And honestly, $50k means nothing to UA or AA. Sure, all those $50k 1ks add up and make the airline profitable. But I bet, as much as the miles community gives Doug Parker or Scott Kirby shit, if they were standing there they’d side with the Capt. Now a GS in charge of the Apple contract is another story….but we know that guy wouldn’t be such a douch
Anyone joining the US military is voluntarily joining a murderous organization fully knowing that they’ll contribute to killing thousands of poor brown people overseas.
Why that deserves any thanks or respect is beyond me. United shouldn’t be encouraging the fetishization of our military industrial complex.
Obviously it hasn’t occurred to you that people joined defence to defend their country, to help, not because they thought they would kill people.
How about you blame the people that make these decisions about what the military do and where they go – not the workers that have to carry the orders.
Geez it must be difficult being an adult and getting around being this unaware and one-eyed, you’d be fun at parties.
Think this really happened? Sounds like another military-fetish story to me.
It happened. I trust this long-time member of Flyertalk.
As shocking as that is, back around the merger i got the vibe pmUA had a disproportionate number of insecure narcissists compared to the fliers I encountered up front on pmCO or Delta in the early 2010s
Some of it may be the extra emphasis on the premier program vs other carriers, the three cabin on all widebodies that attracted the highest order of status seekers, and heavy presence in the Bay Area, LA and DC which tend to have a fair number of HENRYs with a chip on their shoulder
flying IAD-LGA was always surprised at the size of the premier egos on that flight – and aggressive narcissistic behavior. remember one who took an unassigned next to me in the bulkhead after boarding. on chatting about united / status he then went on a false narrative about polaris layouts and what he had been told about it by the airline as a top flier. classic narcissistic gaslighting.
‘757FO’ – the poster – has a long post history on flyertalk as a UA pilot. this is not a ‘hit and run’ for attention forum post
Indeed. He’s been a valuable member for many years.
“Anyone joining the US military is voluntarily joining a murderous organization fully knowing that they’ll contribute to killing thousands of poor brown people overseas.
Why that deserves any thanks or respect is beyond me. United shouldn’t be encouraging the fetishization of our military industrial complex.”
WTF are you smoking?
That 1K should also know he’s only the 3rd highest on the elite totem pole.
GS is number 2 and CC is the very top. A 1K expecting to be treated as a Chairman’s Circle member is entirely over the top.
Also, as rude as he was, the pilot probably should have had him removed from the flight
Here Here Mon Capitan. Perfect. If it ruins his day because he is acknowledging and wounded veteran, he should be on Greyhound or Trailways.
I’ll take Things That Never Happened for $2000, LeVar.
This is beyond bootlicking glurge. Everything about it screams fake.
“Why do guys like this need their egos stroked so much? Why does some random employee thanking them give them such a hardon? ”
I agree with Shaun. Why do military people get such a hardon from being “thanked for their service”?
No. No no. I’m obviously talking about the 1k….pretty sure u know that…or maybe your reading comprehension is what I expect it it.
I’m no huge supporter of the military, but I also am cognisant of military benefits to every global economy. I also am not blind to sacrifices some families make. I am in the camp that now a days that is their choice. Same as a fire fighter, police officer, etc.
I personally have zero problem if a UA Capt wants to acknowledge a fellow serviceman. How does it hurt the prima Donna 1k? It doesn’t.
As a long time flyertalker I would bet my net worth this actually happened. The poster has always had extremely intelligent and interesting posts over a long span.
Everything about this sounds contrived, constructed and phoney. BS detector is screeching long and loud.
Paolo, most of the time you are right on, but I am willing to vouch for this captain. I understand if you disagree with how he handled it, but I am sure it happened as he described it.
I am curious as to why military people need a special thank you?
There has not been any conscription since Vietnam, so why is a dude voluntarily joining the military in a work-for-hire scenario needs a special thank you?
Why are you guys not thanking the deadliest catch guys that are putting their life on the line to feed you and provide food to your plate? Fisherman is after all much more deadly. Fishermen are away from their families many long period of times….
As a current 1K and current active duty Navy (how’s that for an uncommon combo?), I apply a little skepticism to stories that fit together a little “too nicely”. It’s heartwarming, sure, but if you carry yourself like a normal person, nobody is going to know you’re in the military and nobody will thank you for your service unless you’re fishing for it (think military patches/gear) or there is something physically obvious that might lead to questions/conversation regarding it.
I get thanked enough for my service when I’m in uniform getting lunch or gas, I would much prefer to be thanked for being a 1K while I’m on a plane.
I’ve written against priority boarding for the military (as a former Air Force Reservist myself – and the story is nearly a decade old) and maintain that position. Here, though, I don’t see the problem with recognizing someone who (presumably?) looked disabled for his service that led to that disability.
How did the gate agent know he was a “combat wounded veteran”? I find the story fishy.
@Derek – GS customers do not actually have to fly to get this status. They can control a companies travel budget, be a invited guest of another GS, or be the recipient of the Medal of Honor. None of which requires meeting a personal segment, or $$ goal to maintain.
Is the K1 passenger who didn’t get thanked white too or no?
Here’s the thing….why would this guy who’s posted for a decade post this? He’s always super engaging and actually offers insightfull viewpoints, whether u agree or not.
I feel like I’m trying to fight off Trump supporters at the same time im trying fight off Hillary supporters.
There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging another human being who went thru the same experience…even if u are wearing the company colors. If u feel excluded see a shrink.
Agree with paolo – BS detector needle red-lining here.
this sounds like one of those linkedin stories that gets repeated by a bunch of “influencers” as though it was their own.
the only thing missing is everyone in the first class cabin standing up an applauding while the shamed passenger shuffles off with his face down
Only this time I know and vouch for the pilot…
I don’t think people are talking about acknowledging someone else. It’s how this perfectly framed and impeccably timed villain shows up just in time to get a much-deserved dressing down from the storyteller.
He’s only been on flyertalk since 2017 and has 350 posts. I mean maybe this is true and maybe it isn’t, but I sure as heck won’t bet money on the FT track record.
Ha – you do realize countries with brown people have militaries too…in fact many countries have armies that kill people. Believe me, I would be happy to keep our army out of every single country in Africa and let the genocide continue (because it’s acceptable for brown people to kill other brown people). I also agree with giving them absolutely no aid – which incidentally the military delivers (every seen pictures of C-130 dropping off massive amounts of food and goods in countries full of brown people that are too poor to support themselves…somalia, haiti…). The military doesn’t just kill innocent people for no reason, but I’m glad you think that they are innocent just because they are brown lol.
If that’s how you feel – you are free to leave.
Is it possible that the Donald is already flying commerical. Sounds like him.
“A United pilot who has posted on FlyerTalk for years …”
Only since 2017, that’s hardly “years” …
A few years, maybe.
Won’t comment on his professionalism.
In fairness to the man, U.S. military personnel blindly follow orders of an evil government. The U.S. military has not defended our freedoms since 1812. These soldiers don’t defend free speech. They don’t defend our borders from illegals. They don’t defend our economic or religious freedom. They don’t defend civilians from cops enforcing the war on drugs or gun control. They never help us and are always used to further bad aims in foreign conflicts they don’t belong in. Our streets are filled with thugs and cops who protect those thugs. Soldiers/sailors/Marines/Airmen don’t do jack for us. They earn pay, earn benefits, earn sign up bonuses, earn college tuition, and those who stay earn handsome pensions. They are not doing it to keep us free (we are the opposite of free). They are doing it only for the benefit of themselves.
It’s illogical why we should thank people for getting paid to do a service with our tax dollars that we don’t support and doesn’t help our people (whites/Christians/conservatives/libertarians).
OMG, FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS. Someone call the waaaaaahmbulance!!! If you were REALLY a big deal, you’d be flying private jets. You upset because you were to privileged to have to enlist? [redacted by admin] YOU, All you [redacted by admin] complain about people not earning their keep, abusing the “system” but when someone does assimilate and work their way through the system you CREATED you still find a way to [redacted by admin]?? BTW, I served, then worked for the government and retired at 49. Now you pay me for 7 day weekends for the rest of my life. ( plus medical) Thank you to all those who have served, their families and especially all those that gave their life for the others to enjoy their privilege. Have the day that you deserve.
That moron probably never spent a penny of his own pocket. My former employer paid over $100k per year for me to fly on Delta. They paid, not me. Although Delta treated me like a king I never expected anything and never bragged about it. People like this moron should always be shamed in front of everyone.
Matt I understand you vouch for the poster but it screams BS to me so I’ll reserve my outrage on this one.
It’s an interesting story and invites reflection.
Consider that the Captain is probably a white male who thinks in terms of fighting and serving for his country while United, like many corporations, has gone woke and caters to identity groups such as: BLM, women, immigrants, who may not think in terms of American nationalist military objectives.
So Greg has a point, sort of, in that there will be a time when, if diversity “goals” work out, that at least 1/2 (or more, even better) of pilots will not regard military service with honor and won’t go out of their way to thank them for their service.
That being said, what about the self-entitled 1K d—-bag 1Ker? The reality is that while he’s a status member, he’s just one guy. CEO’s quake in their boots over bad publicity from offending some large political action group and ultimately, legislators and the media. Individual customers? They’re peasants. Even though slightly more affluent peasants.
Wow and Wow! Some of you people have issues.
That Greg guy above should be thanking that veteran for his service. It is because of our service men and women that we are (at least on the books) still free. That veteran defended his first amendment right to show his stupidity. When he mentioned black/brown, he showed his racism. The article never mentioned color. The article focused on the sense of entitlement of one narcissist. Unfortunately, he is not the only one. Society has become full of them. The “world owes me a living” type, just like the grasshopper. There are too many people who do not ask, “What can I do for my country?” a la JFK, but what can my country do for me? If you seriously believe that this is not the greatest country on the planet – you have not seen much of this world. If thanking that veteran for his service bothers you – tough. It’s a sad state of affairs.
Thanking someone for their service and thanking someone for their business are two vastly different situations. Thanking a wounded vet for his service does not take anything away from that passenger’s 1K status. He did that himself. For those who called this situation BS, I wish it was. Stories like this are commonplace. Those personality types seeking attention will do anything to inject themselves into any and all situations. Clearly they do not get enough attention at home.
I don’t know why so many people doubt this story, I totally believe it! Being a retired FA from UA and dealing with GS and 1Ks this behavior is the norm. I always have taught my kids that being a bully is not OK but UA encourages this behaviour from 1ks. Kiddos to the Captain for putting a Bully in his place!
I understand the sentiment here. However, I’ll probably never understand the American culture of glorifying their military and military personnel. And yes, I know it’s not the one soldier whos started the rather disastrous wars the Americans have fought the last 40 years, but still: Would the captain have gone to talk to a doctor who’d been in a war zone for Doctors Without Borders?
When has the U.S. military actually defended free speech since 1812? When was the last time the U.S. military arrested cops/prosecutors/judges/jailers for violating free speech rights of a citizen or tourist in the U.S.? That’s just the story supporters of the military like to tell.
Most of the people who support the military are decent people. They just don’t realize that the military doesn’t actually protect our freedoms. They don’t contemplate or examine reality from a rational perspective. They just follow the same talking points and beliefs drilled into them by their political leaders and community. It’s false. Conservatives should be anti military because the military will never be used to further conservative aims or fight for freedom at home. Spending trillions over the course of 2 years to fund a wasteful and excessive military that will only be used to involve itself in foreign conflicts that we don’t belong in isn’t fighting for our freedom.
Anyone who blindly follows orders of a government (which conservatives consider evil) should not be praised. Their actual service doesn’t actually help us. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and etc. hasn’t done anything to advance free speech rights or religious freedom at home. It’s the same with why we shouldn’t praise cops. Cops enforce laws we consider a violation of human rights (speech control/gun control/taxation/forced integration/drug laws that tell individuals government owns their bodies/mask laws/arresting christians for going to church). It shows most conservatives aren’t thinking, I used to be like that. We just need to put false emotions aside and open our eyes to hard truths.
Iflyhigh and Jackson –
Good debate, but you’re getting worked up over a fake story. This never happened. It did exactly what its author invented it out of whole cloth to do-t0 stir up trouble and rally boot lickers.
Hi “Greg” – sorry for your confusion, but you have the wrong blog and author. I would not have written about this event had it not happened. But thank you for your click!
As a non-American who has lived in many countries and spent substantial time in the US it always gets me how the Americans are the only country in the world to thank their military in public – something even more common in southern states.
I say this as someone totally opposed to most wars (because 95% of them are economic and do nothing to bring freedom). Many young men/women’s lives are ruined (whether it be trauma or physical injury) based on them being lured in on false promises or a sense of the army being cool.
In this case whilst the UA 1K is clearly an idiot, I don’t think the captain should be spending any more time other than saying “I appreciate your service” to the vet.
Matt, I’m talking about its author, the Flyertalker, not the person who copied and pasted it into a blog entry (you). I do not consider you the author of the fake just-too-perfect-to-be-true encounter. Perhaps this series really did occur in the author’s head. It is interesting though how others have pointed out this poster’s rather limited and not-too-illustrious FT history and you are so prepared to stand behind this yarn.
I’ve spoken to him…
Yes, I’m aware. I was pointing out your misunderstanding as to my definition of “author”.
As I said, I’m open to the idea that this yarn unfolded precisely as written in its author’s head.
Greg&JacksonW?….what is wrong with both of u besides being liberals
Totally agree with all your opinion on this issue.
And I can’t deny that I also enjoy the leftists trigger topic, there’s nothing they hate more than a Patriot veteran.
I am a lifetime Global Services Member with over 7 Million miles flown on United. I can’t believe the comments by this passenger and others on this post. This service person should have the highest level of respect from every American on this flight. They gave their blood in service of their country and will most likely suffer for years to come. Sorry the pilot didn’t come over and stroke your childish, fragile ego. The wounded hero chose to defend the freedoms Mr. 1k enjoys. The pilot was right in his response to “Mr. I’m More Important than you.” By the way….1k is the lowest premium level. I’m sure your flying on your company’s money. That poor service person is usually in the back. I’ve witnessed exceptional passenger behavior like giving up their first class seats to a service person in transit to people getting upset because the were asked to wait while the family of a marine killed in the service get off first to go below to escort the body to a hearse. Most Global travelers not all….but most realize that they are no better or worse than any other flyer. We get treated very nice for our patronage. We don’t get carried too far away with our self importance.
That day, that time, that service man or woman was and is the most important person on that or any plane. Too bad you just didn’t understand. I’m going to take a wild guess you never served your country.
I do not feel it is appropriate for the pilot to come out and thank the veteran. While it is a nice gesture it can easily backfire which it did. I am actually going to take up for the customer because I don’t think customers who really do spend that much money Are thanked enough from the company. While this is only one employee he is still a captain and represents the airline and I think they should come out and think people who fly and spend that much because actually it is true that is why they still have their jobs especially in this economy. I think the customers approach was Awful but I think the pilots response was even worse and perhaps he should be the one to the one flying on a different airline!
What a sad man the captain rather is. I am glad I don’t fly United and will make sure to stay away from their distracted sad pilots.
“Here’s the thing….why would this guy who’s posted for a decade post this?”
He’s been a member for barely four years.
Another thread by the phoney baloney
“They then procced to offer me all manner of compensation if I upgrade them to first class. I politely but firmly tell them I have no control over such things, and even if I did, the answer would be no. They begin to make some snide comments about how airplanes fly themselves, and that I must be a Trump supporter. ”
I mean it’s not even GOOD storytelling. There are so many tells that he’s making this nonsense up in his head.
It’s a shame the bloggers fall for it.
If you say so…
As a flight attendant who deals with entitled elite passengers on a near-daily basis, I could absolutely see this happening.
As far as the “well how did he know” comments, it’s common for both military and passengers in need of assistance to pre-board. It’s probable this passenger had wheelchair assistance, and there are instances those same passengers wear clothing or carry items to identify themselves as aligned with the armed forces, such as wounded warrior gear, etc. It’s possible he spent time talking with the gate agent before boarding began. I’ve had them run down before boarding to share specific details about passengers, and if this is something they were made aware of, they may have felt compelled to share.
Airline crewmembers are not impressed at all by your “status.” We laugh at the passengers who claim to fly more than we do. We appreciate your business, but no one will be less impressed by your status than a pilot, and a flight attendant will only care when offering meal choices in order or remembering to offer you a snackbox or an alcoholic beverage if service ever returns to normal. We care about our passengers, irrespective of their status.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a critique of passengers who have earned status, just a certain kind of tinfoil elite member who thinks they matter more than anyone or anything on the plane. The ones who interrupt pilots as they’re briefing flight attendants in the galley because they’ve uncovered a maintenance issue and we’re waiting on mechanics to determine our next step. The ones who have no understanding of how certain weather conditions or air traffic control flow can compromise flight safety, but yell at crewmembers because they understand flight planning better than the pilots, ATC and dispatch combined. They’re above all safety regulations, particularly covid-related ones, and feign shock when asked to comply with any FARs.
So yeah, I could easily see one of those jackholes doing it. Honestly, it’s on the lighter side of things I’ve heard entitled asshats like him say, we just don’t have enough job security on the inflight side to say much back.
But he damn sure wouldn’t get anything other than the bare minimum inflight. Saying something like that to an asshole passenger is part of my lottery win “I don’t need this job” fantasies, so this was a satisfying read.
If you act like that 1K, just know belittling others and demanding attention doesn’t make you more important, it makes you an asshole.
Matt: Maybe it’s timeto end the “comments” section. Clearly you have some very odd and emotionally disturbed readers. The pilot reports a very sad incident..which, given how the passenger “sense of entitlement” has grown beyond reason, is quite plausable. But you have these trolls who think he’s making it up?? Just amazing and it again shows you can’t cure stupid. The “comments'” section only gives these morons a voice..which just eggs them on. Keep reporting your stories. But stop giving the nut cases a place to see their thoughts in print.
This jackanapes of a 1K reminds me of someone Lucky mentioned in a review of LH F:
I had a flight attended come and talk to me on a flight ex-FRA at the beginning of the pandemic last year. She seemed quite excited by the fact that I was the only 1K on board and even went so far as to explain the color-coding of passengers on the United-issued smartphones. Her enthusiasm for service seemed genuine, but I find most of the “gratitude” mandated of flight attendants towards premium customers to be phony. Merely being polite would suffice (and is often sorely lacking).
Mike – i think if you were to actually read this pilot’s yarns, you’d come to the same conclusion that he positions himself as the against an impossibly evil, mustache-twirling villain each time. Tut the extent to which people run to defend his “decade” of posting history (four years and 30o-some posts, in reality) is really indicative of how people fall for simple lies that fall in line with their preconceived perceptions. They succeed in bamboozling people precisely because of the kernel of truth they share – in this case, a sense of entitlement that we know exists.
Anyone joining the US military is voluntarily joining a murderous organization fully knowing that they’ll contribute to killing thousands of poor brown people overseas.
You must of sucked your thumb a lot as a child. What an ignorant thing to say.
I’m a 1K with United too. How can you compare flying United to someone who has risked life and limb for the country? 1K’s should be thanked for their loyalty but the loyalty and sacrifice of our veterans is beyond compare. They should be thanked again and again.