Taipei-Bound United Passenger Causes Diversion After Refusing to Stay Out of Business Class

by Anthony Losanno
United Polaris

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United Airlines flight UA871 was forced to return to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) after an Economy Class passenger became unruly, refused to follow crew member instructions, and repeatedly wandered into the Polaris (Business Class) cabin. The flight was headed to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE), but returned to its origin after a few hours of flying when the man would not listen and it was deemed he needed to be removed.

UA 871

The flight ended up being delayed after the Boeing 777-300 needed to return, deplane the passenger, get recatered, and have a new crew take over the flight.

United plane

Matthew at Live And Let’s Fly started a FlyerTalk thread and amazingly a few members were on the flight.

User @Live4Upgrades commented:

I was in Polaris. The guy was in coach. He kept coming up to Polaris during the initial drink service. Flight attendant told him to return to his seat. He walked back but then a few moments later, he’s back up in the Business cabin. He appeared to be under the influence of something. Then the purser told the entire cabin to return to their seats. He didn’t comply. Then restrained him & returned to SFO. We are now waiting for a new crew & the plane to be refreshed.”
User @United747 added:
Come say “hi” if we go out – I’m in 9A.
Slight correction – passenger was never restrained. FA asked myself and a few other guys to help with the situation to keep an eye on the guy.
Things calmed down once he got seated – IME, crew made the right decision to return. Just hope we make it out tonight.”
It sounds like the crew did a great job in handling this incident and United was luckily able to find replacement employees so that the flight did not get cancelled.
KRON4 shared a statement from United Airlines in its coverage. It reads:
United flight 871 returned to San Francisco due to a disruptive passenger. Law enforcement officials met the aircraft on arrival and removed the passenger. We expect to depart for Taipei later this evening.”
It’s unknown as to why this passenger was not listening and kept going into Polaris. Last week, I wrote about another United flight to Amsterdam that was diverted after a passenger started arguing with crew about not getting his meal choice. Aviation expert @JonNYC wrote on Twitter that that incident was considered a Threat Level 1. This situation was more severe and deemed Threat Level 2.

Anthony’s Take: It sounds like United handled this situation admirably. It’s good to see that they did not cancel the trip and I’m sure more details (and possibly even photos or video) will surface in the next few days. Luckily, the incident was contained and there were no more serious issues.

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1 comment

Mak July 22, 2023 - 8:20 am

This is another ridiculous story of a piece with the AA flight to Guyana last week that was turned around for even less. There are many ways to deal with disobedient passengers, but turning the plane around should be reserved for situations were safety of the crew, passengers, and aircraft are implicated — and this is certainly not that. Stuff like this just shows how Air Crews are high on their own arbitrary power.


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