It’s no secret that airlines have been under extreme scrutiny over the past several years. The rise of social media certainly hasn’t helped their case either. Videos are going viral the minute an incident occurs. Passengers are able to corroborate their story by producing images or video of the exact incident and every detail. This means that even if the person affected by the scandal forgives the airline, the rest of the world could still be upset with the way the airline handled themselves.
However, viral videos and passenger testimonials leave a little to be desired. And that is the airline’s side of the story. What if there was a completely logical reason to act the way they did? And even if there was a reasonable explanation, does it even matter? After all, isn’t the customer is always right?
Whether airlines are in the wrong or a passenger is in the wrong, the airline still needs to address the issue in a professional manner and assure everyone involved that they are taking care of the issue. They need to make sure everyone involved feels like they were heard and cared for.
Here are 25 times that airlines messed up and tried to sweep it under the rug.
25 United Airlines Sends Dog To Japan Instead Of Kansas
In March 2018, United Airlines mistakenly sent a family’s dog to Japan, when it was supposed to be bound for Kansas. The family got on a plane from Oregon to Kansas City, where they were planning to pick up their German Shepherd, Irgo. Instead of being given their dog Irgo, they were given a Great Dane, who was supposed to be sent to Japan. After being informed of their mistake, United Airlines worked hard to make it right by sending Irgo back to Kansas on a private charter.
24 United Airlines' Disruptive Flight Attendant
In May 2018, United Airlines issued an apology after receiving many complaints that one of their flight attendants appeared to have one too many drinks while on the job. The flight attendant was reportedly using inappropriate language during the boarding announcements. One passenger reported the flight attendant to the pilot and described the flight attendant's behavior as, “being out of control.”
In an attempt to fix this issue United Airlines stated, “We have compensated all customers aboard the flight and we apologize for any inconvenience or distress this may have caused.”
23 Man Found Mess On Delta Airlines Flight
A man flying on Delta Airlines in November 2018 found a mess waiting for him when he got to his seat. During the flight before, a service dog became ill and no one bothered to clean up after him.
While finding a mess in your seat is not an ideal way to start a flight, it wouldn’t have been a big deal if they were able to just move him to another seat. Instead, the flight attendants handed him a roll of paper towels and didn’t offer any assistance.
22 Musician And Cello Kicked Off American Airlines Flight
In August 2018, a musician and her cello were kicked off an American Airlines flight. Jingjing Hu was a student at DePaul University School of Music, flying from Chicago to Miami to perform in a music festival. She bought an extra seat for her cello and was able to fly there without any problems. On her return flight, just minutes before takeoff, an American Airlines employee told her that the aircraft was too small for her instrument and that she would need to leave, even though they called ahead of time and was told it was absolutely no problem.
Another passenger noted that as soon as Hu left, two passengers were seated in her previously occupied seats.
21 United Airlines Flies Elderly Woman To Wrong Destination
80-year-old Maria Larios was planning to meet her family in North Carolina but instead found herself across the country in Denver. Larios speaks no English and is partially blind, and was trying to be with her daughter who was having brain surgery.
"How is it possible that a woman got on a plane that she did not have a boarding pass for and is now in another state?” her daughter-in-law questioned. United tried to sweep the issue under the rug and only offered a meal voucher for their inconvenience.
20 Delta Misroutes Puppy Across Country
In March 2018, an eight-week-old puppy was scheduled to fly from Virginia to Boise, Idaho. The owner was a little concerned when he got a call informing him that there was a delay and that the puppy would be spending the night in a kennel. His concern was justified when his dog didn’t arrive in Boise.
The puppy ended up on a flight to Las Vegas. Delta assured the owner that the puppy was given proper care throughout the entire delay.
19 American Airlines Passenger Had To Be Restrained
American Airlines passengers sure received a show aboard their February 2018 flight from Dallas, Texas to Charlotte, North Carolina. As the flight was landing, a passenger started to run toward the cockpit door.
The passenger ignored all the flight attendants’ pleas to sit back down in her seat. After the passenger continued to misbehave, the flight attendants had to restrain the passenger in order to endure the safety of everyone on board.
Law enforcement was waiting outside the gate to take the passenger into custody.
18 United Airlines Reroutes Entire Plane After Loading Dog Onto Wrong Flight
United had yet another incident involving misrouting animals. A dog left from New Jersey’s Newark airport and was supposed to go to Akron, Ohio, when he was mistakenly loaded onto a plane heading to St. Louis, Missouri. United Airlines decided to handle this incident differently and reroute the plane entirely, causing all passengers to be delayed and miss connecting flights.
United Airlines later released a statement saying, “The pet has been safely delivered to its owner. We provided compensation to all customers on board for the diversion.”
17 Hawaiian Airlines Employee Caught Carelessly Tossing Baggage
When you check into a flight, you have to part with your baggage for however many hours until you land at your destination. But who is handling your bags, and more importantly, how are they handling your items? There is always speculation, but a passenger actually captured and tweeted a video of a Hawaiian Airlines employee handling bags carelessly while taking them off a plane at Honolulu airport.
Honolulu Airport staff later tweeted, “Aloha Vanessa, we’re very sorry to see this and appreciate you bringing it to our attention.”
16 Spirit Airlines Forced Woman To Get Rid Of Her Emotional Support Hamster
College student Belen Aldecosea scheduled a flight home to Miami and was planning to take her emotional support hamster on board with her. She called and was assured she would be able to take her hamster, Pebbles, on the flight. After checking in, Aldecosea was informed that she would not be able to take Pebbles with her and was forced to get rid of her.
Spirit Airlines tried to make it right by offering her a voucher for round trip tickets but she refused them. Aldecosea is currently pursuing legal actions.
15 Japan Airlines Pilot Unprepared For Flight
In October 2018, Japan Airlines was forced to delay the departure of one of their domestic flights due to the pilot participating in a little preflight drinking. The pilot was arrested by British police. Japan Airlines previously had a ban for pilots drinking at least 12 hours before flights. They didn’t change anything or impose any stricter rules directly following this incident. However, due to several other incidents similar to this one happening close together, they have decided to extend their drinking ban to 24 hours before flights.
14 Emotional Support Dog Bites Young Girl Passenger On Southwest Flight
In February 2018, a young girl was injured during her Southwest Airlines flight from Phoenix to Portland, Oregon when she was bitten by another passenger’s emotional support dog. The young girl reportedly tried to pet the emotional support dog when the dog responded by biting her. The canine and its owner both left the plane shortly after, and the incident caused the flight to depart 20 minutes late.
Other airlines currently have stricter policies including signed vouchers and health records. While Southwest Airlines has always had more lenient policies than other airlines, they are looking at updating their policies following this incident.
13 Delta Passenger Upset Over Crying Baby
In February 2018, Delta Airlines made the news when a video about a woman getting upset at a woman and her baby went viral. Marissa Rundell was captured on camera yelling about a woman and her crying baby, who wasn’t heard crying on video at all.
Rundell continued to make a scene and asked to be moved away from the baby, and even threatened a flight attendant’s job after the flight attendant wasn’t accommodating. Because this all happened before the plane took off, Rundell was asked to leave the flight.
12 Ryanair Passenger Rude To Other Passenger
During a Ryanair flight in October 2018, a man was caught on camera making rude comments about a woman seated next to him. It appeared that he didn’t want to sit by her simply because she looked different than him. Ryanair was under fire for not responding to the incident until a week later. However, Ryanair claims they didn’t know about the argument until the video surfaced following the flight. The man has since been on the news and has tried to apologize for his behavior.
11 60 Minutes Reports Safety Issues Against Allegiant Air
In April 2018, “60 Minutes” released a safety report saying the Allegiant Air has experienced over 100 serious mechanical issues in the time span of a year and a half.
Allegiant Air is fighting back stating that the bulk of those issues were on their older planes, which are 28 years old, and says they have plans to retire those planes by the end of 2018. Allegiant also claims that many of the facts reported were outdated statistics and due to a disgruntled ex-pilot.
10 Southwest Airlines Grounds 34 Planes On Thanksgiving
Southwest Airlines was forced to ground 34 planes on Thanksgiving Eve when they “discovered that the maintenance paperwork related to the grounded planes was not in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety directives.” Most of the grounded planes were previously owned by other airlines and were acquired when Southwest got rid of some older planes quicker than planned.
However, it could have been a much bigger disaster. Southwest Airlines was still able to complete 4,100 flights and said that the grounding “had minimal effect on our operation.”
9 Southwest Airlines Baggage Handler Recorded Throwing Living Fish
In November 2018, a video went viral of a Southwest Airlines baggage handler throwing around precious cargo at Phoenix airport. It’s no secret that baggage handlers aren’t the most careful when it comes to handling passengers’ luggage. However, during this video, the handlers were throwing a box that said “live tropical fish” across the side.
The person recording the video was immediately worried about his checked luggage after seeing the way the “live tropical fish” was handled because he was returning from shooting a film, and had checked $100,000 worth of camera equipment.
8 Woman Kicked Off Frontier Airlines Flight For Bringing Her Emotional Support Squirrel
In October 2018, a woman was kicked off her Frontier Airlines flight after refusing to leave with her emotional support squirrel. While the woman did report that she was bringing an emotional support animal and wasn’t told she couldn’t, she reportedly didn’t say what type of animal she was bringing.
Frontier Airlines doesn’t allow "unusual or exotic animals including, but not limited to rodents, reptiles, insects hedgehogs, rabbits.” The woman had already boarded the flight with her emotional support squirrel when flight attendants asked her to leave. Orlando police were then called to escort her off the plane.
7 Southwest Faces Investigation For Safety Violations
Southwest has received numerous fines over the past decade for safety violations including planes that didn’t undergo required repairs or holes tearing open in the plane roof. After an incident in April 2018 where one of their engines blew out, they are undergoing an investigation.
There is speculation that it’s due to their low-cost business model or their rough schedule. An aviation-safety consultant noted, “Southwest's short, frequent flights put more stress on the plane and engines, like a car used heavily in stop-and-go city traffic.”
6 Toxic Gases Discovered On Spirit Aircraft
In January 2018, a passenger complained about a strange smell during a flight from Akron to Fort Lauderdale. Flight attendants did confirm that there was an abnormal smell aboard, and that it did become stronger throughout the flight. The pilots also said the smell was in the cockpit and they used their oxygen mask about 20 minutes before landing.
It was reported that the “flight attendants felt increasingly nauseous; several indicated they nearly passed out.” It’s unknown whether Spirit Airlines has offered anything to make it up to the passengers on board.