United Airlines flight diverted to San Francisco after bathrooms reach capacity

By Susana Guerrero, SFGATE Updated 2:05 pm, Tuesday, January 16, 2018 window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-5', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 5', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-10', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 10', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-15', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 15', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-20', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 20', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); window._taboola = window._taboola || []; _taboola.push({ mode: 'thumbnails-c', container: 'taboola-interstitial-gallery-thumbnails-24', placement: 'Interstitial Gallery Thumbnails 24', target_type: 'mix' }); _taboola.push({flush: true}); Photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images Image 1of/24 CaptionClose Image 1 of 24 A United Airlines flight en route to Hawaii from Denver was diverted to SFO due to the lavatories reaching full capacity.  A United Airlines flight en route to Hawaii from Denver was diverted to SFO due to the lavatories reaching full capacity.  Photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images Image 2 of 24 Image 3 of 24 Seat nabShirley Yamauchi was told by United Airlines employees in Houston to give up her son's seat to another passenger on a flight bound for Continue Reading

United Airlines CEO calls for ‘zero tolerance’ of sexual harassment

Its flight attendants' union calls it a "silent epidemic." As high-profile allegations of sexual harassment become a near-daily occurrence, In a letter to staff on Monday, Oscar Munoz asked employees to "all join with me in making a commitment to zero tolerance for sexual harassment of any of our colleagues and customers." Sexual harassment in air travel gained more visibility late last month after Randi Zuckerberg, a media executive and sister of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, reported she was sexually harassed on an The Association of Flight Attendants, which represents thousands of cabin crew on United, Alaska and a host of other airlines, commended Alaska Airlines for investigating the incident but warned that flight attendants lack the proper training and guidance to deal with such issues. "The industry and regulators need to come together to develop policies and tools to respond to these incidents on board," union president Sara Nelson said in a statement to CNBC. A union survey found the majority of flight attendants "have no knowledge of written guidance and/or training" on this issue," she added. Munoz's letter comes after the airline faced several public relations black eyes this year. Munoz and United faced a public outcry in the spring after a botched apology for the violent dragging of passenger David Dao off one of its flights to make room for commuting crew. Flight attendants themselves are often victims of sexual harassment, Nelson wrote in a Dec. 8 op-ed in the Washington Post. "Even today, we are called pet names, patted on the rear when a Continue Reading

Two officers fired for violently dragging doctor from United Airlines flight, a third resigns

The law enforcement officers caughtdragging a Kentucky doctor from a United Airlines plane destined for Louisville have been fired, officials said. The Chicago Department of Aviation fired two officers — one of them an Aviation Security Sergeant — and a third officer resigned for their role in booting Dr. David Dao from a United Airlines plane at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago back in April, NBC News reported. Another officer was handed a five-day suspension — later shortened to two following an appeal — for their involvement in the incident, the footage of which almost immediately went viral. Dao refused to leave the Kentucky-bound flight after being told by officials that his seat was needed for a crew member. Cell phone video of the incident shows the doctor being dragged through the plane’s aisle by a group of security officers while nearby passengers express confusion and disgust. United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz issued a public apology following the viral incident and initially said he “never” considered firing anyone over the violent ejection. “The incident that took place aboard Flight 3411 has been a humbling experience and I take full responsibility,” he said at the time. “This will prove to be a watershed moment for our company, and we are more determined than ever to put our customers at the center of everything we do.” In his report, Chicago’s Inspector General Joseph Ferguson said the “excessive force” caused Dao to lose two teeth, sustain a concussion and break his nose. He added that the security guard who forced Dao from the flight broke department policy as he “escalated a non-threatening situation into a physically violent one,” according to the report released Tuesday. What’s more, Ferguson said two of the officers “deliberately removed material Continue Reading

United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek resigns amid federal corruption investigation

United Airlines' top executive stepped down Tuesday amid ongoing federal and internal corruption investigations into the company's dealings with a former Port Authority chairman with ties to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.  United CEO Jeff Smisek and two other top executives resigned as the New Jersey U.S. attorney’s office continues its probe into whether the airline provided special nonstop flights, known as the “chairman’s flight,” for former Port Authority Chairman David Samson in exchange for fee reductions and other benefits at Newark Airport. Smisek got a hefty payoff — $4,875,000 in severance. “The departures announced today are in connection with the company’s previously disclosed internal investigation related to the federal investigation associated with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey,” United said in a statement. A filing Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission described the terms of Smisek’s generous separation agreement. In addition to the severance, the 61-year-old will remain eligible for a pro-rated bonus. Smisek will have health insurance until he is eligible for Medicare, and maintain flight benefits and parking privileges for life. He also gets to keep his company car. United named Oscar Munoz, the chief operating officer of railroad operator CSX Corp., as Smisek’s replacement. The shakeup at Newark Airport’s largest carrier renewed the long-simmering controversy surrounding the relationship between airline and Port Authority officials. United disclosed earlier this year that the company and some of its executives had received subpoenas from a federal grand jury for information about its dealings with the agency. The company said it was conducting its own internal investigation. Samson, appointed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in 2010, stepped down in March 2014 when records showed Continue Reading

Trump meeting with airline CEOs to focus on jobs

WASHINGTON – In a pair of U.S. airline disputes with foreign carriers, the White House signaled Tuesday that President Trump’s focus will be on domestic jobs.The question previewed a meeting Trump scheduled Thursday with Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian and United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz. Those legacy carriers and American Airlines have asked the administration to block additional flights from state-owned Emirates, Etihad and Qatar airlines because they received an alleged $50 billion in subsidies during the last decade, which the carriers deny.The question also touched on Norwegian Air International, which won Transportation Department approval in December to serve the U.S. Airline unions have urged Trump to overturn the approval by arguing Norwegian is skirting labor laws with headquarters in Ireland, which the airline denies.QATAR AIRWAYS: This 17-hour flight is now the longest in the worldSean Spicer, the White House spokesman, said Trump wants to talk with the Big 3 airline executives about economic growth and job creation. Spicer noted that Norwegian has hired American-based crews and is buying Boeing planes that provide “a huge economic interest” for the country.“I don't want to get ahead of the president on that, but just to be clear, we are talking about U.S. jobs both in terms of the people who are serving those planes and the person who is building those planes,” Spicer said. “That’s a very big difference.”Anders Lindstrom, a Norwegian spokesman, said the airline flies an all-Boeing fleet of 120 aircraft and has ordered another 120. The airline will take delivery of nine 787 Dreamliners, six 737 MAX and 17 737-800 aircraft this year, he said.“No other foreign airline invests more in the American economy or creates more American jobs than Norwegian,” Lindstrom said. “We currently have 500 U.S. based cabin crew and is the only foreign airline to be recruiting American pilots, Continue Reading

Frequent-fliers wonder if new CEO will mean a new United Airlines

Tuesday's abrupt resignation of United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek comes amid a federal investigation that's raised the specter of political patronage and allegations of corruption in the state of New Jersey.But for United's customers, interest in the airline's executive shake-up is more basic: "What will it mean for us?"The ouster of Smisek and two other high-ranking company executives follows a series of IT breakdowns -- two alone this summer -- that have snarled flights and frayed passengers' nerves since United's merger with Continental in 2011. United's overall operations have also bogged down, with poor on-time arrival rates and above-average customer complaint rates, according to federal Department of Transportation data.In June – the latest month for which federal data is available – United had the second-worst on-time arrival rating of the 13 big carriers that report data to the Department of Transportation. More than 1 out of every 3 of United's "mainline" flights arrived behind schedule for the month.United also scored poorly for customer complaints, rating 10th out of the 13 airlines included in the DOT numbers for the first half of 2015. Of the four biggest U.S. airlines that combine to carry 80% of U.S. passengers, United fared better only than American – which is in the process of wrapping up its merger with US Airways.And from Wall Street's perspective, United's post-merger earnings remained relatively anemic compared to the bonanzas reported at Delta and American following their mergers with Northwest and US Airways, respectively. United's earnings results finally began to improve during the past year.Though United cited the ongoing federal investigation in revealing Smisek's departure, he had become the target for many of the airline's customers who had grown frustrated with its recent performance."The CEO of a company is always going to be a lightning rod for complaints when things go poorly or the hero when things go well," says Continue Reading

United Airlines pledges new protections for fliers in wake of passenger-dragging incident

United Airlines, acknowledging that "many things went wrong" on the day a passenger was dragged off one of its flights, pledged on Thursday a sweeping series of changes for passenger protection, including up to $10,000 compensation for travelers who voluntarily give up their seat on an overbooked flight.The move comes as the carrier has been beleaguered by a wave of negative press since a passenger was bloodied and forcibly removed from one its flights April 9. The incident on United Express Flight 3411 was captured on cellphone video and quickly went viral.The airline announced 10 new or updated customer service polices aimed at preventing episodes such as the one that occurred on that flight and released an "action report" on how the events on that ill-fated flight unfolded.."That breach of public trust is something we have to rework," United CEO Oscar Munoz said in an interview with USA TODAY, calling the service changes part of an effort "to ensure this never happens again."LIST: United Airlines' 10 customer-service policy changesAmong the changes, United said that starting Friday, employees will be able to offer up $10,000 to try to entice overbooked passengers to take different flights. United also said it would reduce overbooking. The airline did not give a specific number but said in its formal Flight 3411 "Review and Action Report" that it intended to limit the practice "on flights that historically have experienced lower volunteer rates, particularly flights on smaller aircraft and the last flight of the day to a particular destination."United also said that effective Thursday, it will no longer attempt to involuntarily remove passengers who’ve already boarded their flights “unless safety or security is at risk.” And the carrier is making permanent a policy it adopted April 12 that it will no longer call law enforcement officers to remove passengers except for in Continue Reading

United Airlines CEO issues second apology, ‘I promise you we will do better’

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz issued a new statement on Tuesday afternoon, offering a renewed apology for the incident in which a passenger was dragged off a United Express flight after refusing to give up his seat.In the statement (full text below), Munoz acknowledged the “outrage anger (and) disappointment” over the incident. “I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened,” he adds in the statement.Scroll down for the full text of the statement, issued by United around 3 p.m. ET on Tuesday (April 11, 2017):TODAY IN THE SKY: The fleet and hubs of United Airlines, by the numbers Continue Reading

United Airlines under fire after man is dragged off overbooked flight

United Airlines came under fire on social media Monday after video emerged of a man being violently dragged off of an overbooked flight out of Chicago.Video of the incident, posted online by Audra D. Bridges at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, shows the man screaming as he is dragged off of the plane by what appears to be security [email protected] posted a similar video capturing the incident on Twitter, showing a man hanging limp as his body is dragged down the aisle, with blood pouring out of his mouth.In the video, a woman screams “Please, my God what are you doing.”"No this is wrong," she says. "Please look at what you did to him.”Other passengers shared their videos of the incident and said the man's face was bleeding after his head hit the seat.On Twitter, "United" began trending Monday as people slammed the airline's use of force against the passenger.Some called for a boycott of United flights."On the bright side, @United will probably never have to worry about overbooked flights again," @Schwin216 tweeted with the hashtag #BoycottUnited.United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz apologized for having to “re-accommodate” customers aboard the flight and said they were investigating the incident, but many on social media said the apology fell short.Bridges told the Courier-Journal that the flight was overbooked and the airline needed four people to five up their seats to stand-by United employees who needed to be in Louisville on Monday for a flight. No one volunteered, so the airline used a computer to randomly select four passengers to disembark the flight. More coverage: One couple was selected first and left the airplane, she said, before the man in the video was confronted. Bridges said the man became "very upset" and said that he was a doctor who needed to see patients at a hospital in the morning. The manager told him that security would be called if he did not leave willingly, Bridges said, and the man Continue Reading

United Airlines CEO: ‘This will never happen again’

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz told ABC’s Good Morning America that he felt “shame” over the incident aboard Flight 3411 on Sunday and vowed that the carrier will make changes."This will never happen again," Munoz said during a Wednesday interview with the ABC News morning show. "We are not going to put a law enforcement official onto a plane to take them off … to remove a booked, paid, seated passenger; we can’t do that."When asked by the network to explain what it called a “muted” response to the situation in first days after the incident, Munoz said that was because management was still trying to learn all of the details to figure out exactly what led up to the situation, which culminated with Chicago airport security officials dragging a man off the plane.TODAY IN THE SKY: United Airlines CEO issues second apology, 'I promise you we will do better' (includes full text of apology)"I think my reaction to most issues is to get the facts and circumstances," he said. "My initial words fell short of truly expressing the shame."The incident, of course, was captured on video by several passengers on the plane. One clip showed the man being removed from the flight, his face bloodied from the episode as many expressed dismay about the scene unfolding before them.United has since faced a fierce firestorm of criticism to the incident, which has remained in the headlines in the United States, China and across the globe.TODAY IN THE SKY: The fleet and hubs of United Airlines, by the numbers Continue Reading