United Surprise and Delight Becomes Threats and Fright Over Leftover Manicotti

by Anthony Losanno
Travel Man

Advertiser Disclosure: The Bulkhead Seat earns an affiliate commission for anyone approved through the links below. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. We work to provide the best publicly available offers to our readers. We frequently update them, but this site does not include all available offers.

As reported by several travel blogs, a poster on Reddit shared his recent experience with a seemingly power-tripping flight attendant on a United Airlines flight to Seattle. A surprise gift of leftover manicotti from a First Class meal ended with a passenger being threatened with a flight ban.

Sam (a Premier 1K®) wrote about his recent experience flying from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) to Denver International Airport (DEN) and on to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). He cleared an upgrade to First Class on the first leg, but did not on the connection to Seattle. Surprisingly, both segments had the same flight crew.

When Sam deplaned the first flight, he writes:

I made a comment to Susan the first class FA about how I love the manicotti lunch and since I was coming aboard again in seat 7C would she save me some! Susan, who was delighted to hear that I was on both flights, and kindly said if there was one left over she would ‘see what I could do’.”

When he boarded the second flight, he jokingly made another comment to Susan about the manicotti. She replied, “I got you!” Sam took his seat and was expecting nothing more. After this request, the purser named Sheletha asks Susan what that was “about and speaks to her in a tone that was very disrespectful and rude.” After her condescending behavior toward her colleague, Sheletha apparently came to Sam’s seat to tell him that under United’s policy, he could not have a First Class meal in Economy.

United Seats

The flight progressed and Sam reports that about 90 minutes into the flight (after First Class dinner service had concluded) that Susan brought him the manicotti entree and discretely handed it to him. He said that Sheletha saw this happen, waited for him to take a bite, and then charged at his seat. She berated same with a list of possible actions including him being disciplined by United from her write-up through him being put on a no-fly list. Sam writes that he was rightfully stunned.

Sheletha informed Sam that she got the Captain involved who “was upset about [him] accepting the meal,” and that she was also writing up Susan for giving it to him. At this point, Sam did not know Sheletha’s name and when he asked, she refused to give it to him.

United Meal

Upon landing, Sam told both the captain and Sheletha herself that she was “out of control.” The captain allegedly apologized and said that he would address it with her and her “base team leader.” Sam was flying his 81st United flight of the year and went from being delighted with the kindness of one flight attendant to horrified by the power trip of another.

(Image Credit: No1racer via FlyerTalk.)

This is a clear example of part of why I’ve shifted so much of my United flying last year and during 2023. There are some great employees at United and there are some awful ones (just like in any huge organization). I’ve found those going for mediocre to those just on power trips or with an attitude outweigh the great ones at United. I used to love chatting with the flight attendants from my usual post at seat 1B. Now, I largely keep my AirPods in and stay quiet as I have seen everything from flight attendants just chatting amongst themselves to them being downright rude to other First Class passengers. Even as a Global Services member, I was rarely acknowledged and found most flights average to poor in terms of service, food, and Wi-Fi being operational.

United Airlines Plane

Sheletha’s name is not common and a quick search pulls up her LinkedIn profile. She is a former Continental flight attendant based in Texas from what I can tell. There could be another employee with the same name, but I did not see anyone on LinkedIn. My experiences and memories of Continental are overwhelmingly positive, so this surprises me a bit, but like I said earlier, bad apples are in every bunch. There are two sides to every story, but I believe Sam here and think this should never have occurred. Policy or not, there was a better way of handling this request and its outcome.

Anthony’s Take: This story is even more galling in that it was over what United calls “food” on its planes. Even the best meals that it serves (I would argue the pasta dishes are tastier choices) are just okay and certainly nothing to get in an argument over. Sam did nothing wrong here and I hope that Sheletha is reprimanded for the way she treated this poor passenger. Susan should be commended for going the extra mile. My take is that Sheletha was getting upset witnessing good service as it would make her performance look that much more lackluster.

(H/T: One Mile at a Time.)

User Generated Content Disclosure: The Bulkhead Seat encourages constructive discussions, comments, and questions. Responses are not provided by or commissioned by any bank advertisers. These responses have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the responsibility of the bank advertiser to respond to comments.

1 comment

Christian August 5, 2023 - 2:48 pm

While immediate blame can be laid at the FA’s feet, ultimately the person who sets the rules and the tone for the entire company is Scott Kirby. The buck stops there. Kirby has repeatedly proven that he is manifestly incapable of running a major airline. It’s unfortunate because I truly think that he would be quite skilled at running a small ULCC. In this particular case, the blame lies with him because he’s constantly pushing for any savings, no matter how unreasonable.


Leave a Comment

Related Articles