Argument Over Carry On Bag Leads To Arrest Of United Airlines Passenger In Seattle


A United Airlines passenger traveling with her 80 year old mother got into an argument with the crew over the way her carry on was stowed underneath the seat and escalated into the entire aircraft being cleared again.

After all passengers got off the plane and the lady threw an item inside the airlines offices she was arrested.

Both passengers ended up being denied boarding on their flight and the aircraft continued on to Houston with roughly an hour delay.

Local news station KOMO (access here) reported about the incident.

A dispute over a carry-on bag escalated Tuesday into an argument, removal of all the passengers from the plane and at least one arrest at Sea-Tac Airport.

Sea-Tac spokesman Brian DeRoy said a woman and her mother, who is in her 80s, were on a United Airlines flight at the airport.

The bag that was under the seat in front of them was also sticking out in the row. The crew wanted the bag in an overhead bin. The two passengers didn’t want to move it, DeRoy said.

There was a language barrier between the crew and passengers, but still, an argument began. Police were called and escorted all passengers off the plane for safety reasons.

The two passengers were taken to an office with airline officials. The woman’s daughter got mad, threw something and was arrested, DeRoy said.

I’m trying to imagine how or what exactly was sticking into the aisle as the seats usually have a frame underneath. Nevertheless I’m sure there was a reason why they were asked to put the bag up. Why someone would refuse that is beyond me especially because it’s much more comfortable that way.

United responded to a question from KOMO News with this statement:

“During the boarding process of United flight 1121, from Seattle to Houston, two customers did not follow crew instructions. For the safety and security of our customers and crew, law enforcement was requested by the flight crew. After speaking with these two customers, they voluntarily deplaned.”

Doesn’t sound very ‘voluntary’ to me to be honest. I guess United carefully tried to avoid another incident with negative press here and handled the incident as delicately as possible.


All the bad press United has gotten during the past few months aside, there are incidents where passenger behavior is indeed unreasonable and has to be dealt with properly such as in this case.

Why didn’t the lady just put her item up in the overhead bin? It’s not like they asked her to check it into the cargo hold.

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  • McCaron

    I don’t remember the last time I read anything positive about UA ???

    • nostresshere

      There was an article the other day showing how millions of folks are still flying UA. I am not a big fan of UA myself but I think they are really getting trashed over a few incidents.

  • Flyboy

    Couldn’t the crew member have assisted by helping the passenger put the said bag in the overhead bin? Oh no, I guess not. Its UnUnited.

    • nostresshere

      The customer did not WANT it in the overhead. Nobody said the passenger needed assistance. Why are you blaming United?

    • altos

      The passenger would not comply. What is your personal issue with United?

    • cscasi

      Not the crew members job! It’s the passengers job! Put it where it belongs or check it!!

    • Joe

      If you are familiar with flying, the crew members in the U.S. are essentially not allowed to assist in storing items in the overhead. If you can’t put it there, check it.
      The FAs will get in trouble if anything happens – damaged items, injury, etc. It is a big complaint that they have as they must essentially stand back or hope another passenger assists.
      I now fly on ME airlines and am surprised when I see the FAs there grab the items and put them in the overhead.
      Anyone truly need assistance gets that with someone bringing them onto the plane. That assistant stows the items for them.
      I am sure it was someone not knowing the rules if they tried to keep an oversized item under the seat. That and the extreme things the person did, causing the deplaning, throwing a tantrum, and getting arrested.

  • Siwusa

    Some people are just to dumb to fly and should be blacklisted.

    If the crew tells you, your bags are to large to fit under the seat, you put’em up. thats it.

    • disqust101

      Some people are just too dumb to post comments.

      • cscasi

        But, you posted yours?

  • altos

    This is a jerk passenger problem, not a United problem. Flush the jerk

  • Attention All Passengers

    …..”After speaking with these two customers, they voluntarily deplaned.”
    Along with the other 100+ passengers that had to be inconvenienced or misconnecting thanks to this ONE PERSON. Sorry, United (and every other airline), but this will never end no matter what “training” you put in place, there are just too many ignorant people among us.

    • datachick

      That’s the part that I don’t understand.

  • GISguy

    I fly UA once or twice a month. I fly American, Alaska and SW on occasion. I have the same issues with them all, good and bad. However, on average, UA has improved over the last year. Generally the crew are more friendly. Major improvements in courtesy and service in first class. Bigger picture… safety first. If someone is not cooperating with the crew and it’s over a safety issue, such as items sticking out into the aisle during takeoff or landing, you bet, I’m with the crew 110%.

  • Jason

    United unfortunately have a lot of old and tired trolley dollies they really are not good to be around as a customer that has done over 1 Million miles in 30 years I will say that it is always painful to fly united. It is crazy not to be able to handle this situation. It would never happen on a middle Eastern carrier!

  • Get real United

    With that lad attitude, I’m surprised you get so worked up when a hotel doesn’t leave you a vip amenity kit due to your status! Try to see it from their side, I’ve seen flight crew make a stink about nothing. And bc these passengers obviously don’t speak American as their first language, we really only have United’s acct of the story…

    • cscasi


    • Siwusa

      What language is American? I only know English.

  • TxPepper

    “I’m trying to imagine how or what exactly was sticking into the aisle as the seats usually have a frame underneath”

    @Sebastian….according to the excerpt…the luggage was sticking out into the row, not the aisle. If the woman was sitting in any seat other than the window seat, the bag would cause an obstruction for those having to climb over it trying to exit the row.

    I’ve found that FAs give latitude of a couple of inches but this bag must have been sticking way out from under the seat.

  • DavidA

    UA has been good to me, stressful job at times. …flying UA to PVG soon, hope they’re (FAs) nice for the 16 hours!

  • Buttertart

    The US has become a police state. Never disregard anyone who considers themselves to be in authority or you will be made to regret it. (Although in this case the passenger seems clearly in the wrong).

  • JC

    I was 1K for many years and have 2 million miler status with UA. I was also a flight attendant for a brief period in an earlier life. Personally I have avoided flying UA for the past several years after I started coming across more and more unfriendly skies, often plain mean, aggressive and entitled personnel with little or no tolerance for anything. I used to take the first flight out of MIA in the morning, along with many foreigners connecting to Asia. UAL ground staff would literally scream at anyone not figuring out the automated check-in machines, which half the time could not read their passports, or attempting to check-in personally at the counter, first class and elite PAX included. Such a disgrace. It surely sounds from this story that the women were at fault for storing an oversized luggage under their seat and arguing with the FAs. But reading this, my first thought is that getting a passenger arrested and clearing a whole A320 for an oversized luggage could be another power trip from the FAs. I would be curious to know what is the “something” that the daughter threw which apparently made the whole thing a security threat…

    • datachick

      That seems to have happened outside the plane, in the airline office in the terminal. So not a reason to deplane an entire flight.

  • datachick

    To answer the question about why passengers might be reluctant to put something overhead: if, like me, you’ve had items stolen out of your bag in the overhead bin, then you want to keep valuables, medications and other “can’t lose” items under your seat.

    Heck, I even had a bag on the tarmac cart stolen on a United flight. It never turned up and there were “no cameras” monitoring the gate area where the cart was.

    I always have my laptop bag under the seat in front of me. When I’m at the bulkhead I try to put my items across the aisle and as far in front as I can so that I can try to keep an eye on what’s going on in the bin.

    I wouldn’t try to argue with an FA if I didn’t want my bag moved, but I might do everything possible to make it fit or to take those items out so they don’t go above.