Man Kicked Off United Flight Because He Refused to Stop Doing Yoga

Not long after a passenger was banned by British Airways for walking around inflight, a United flight turned around to have a passenger arrested for refusing to stop doing yoga.

During Saturday’s United flight 903 from Honolulu to Tokyo Narita,

Hyongtae Pae was yelling at crew members and shoving his wife.. Pae told the FBI he didn’t want to sit in his seat during the meal service, so he went to the back of the plane to do yoga and meditate. He became angry when his wife and flight attendants told him to return to his seat. “Pae pushed his wife because she was trying to make him stop,” the complaint said. “He felt that she was siding with the flight crew.”

He tried to head-butt and bite Marines who were passengers on the flight and tried to force him back to his seat… he threatened to kill passengers and was yelling that there is no god.

Here’s his removal from the aircraft:

The man was in Hawaii celebrating his 40th anniversary. He took up yoga to help with anxiety, so I guess the lesson is you really don’t want to interfere with this guy’s yoga because he really needs it (indeed, if passengers can have emotional support animals, maybe doctors should write notes that their patients need yoga).

In any case inflight yoga has gotten coverage in the New York Times and indeed there are poses you can apparently do even in the smallest lavatories. Perhaps the lesson is that’s where you should do your yoga so as not to raise concerns. Or else only do yoga on Southwest Airlines:

Mr. Pae claims he hadn’t slept in 11 days, so he may not have been thinking that strategically. Although it’s unclear lack of sleep is the reason that he “urinated on himself and was on suicide watch at the Honolulu Federal Detention Center.” He’s not being allowed to return to his home in Korea because that would mean getting on another plane.

(HT: Heels First Travel)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I wasn’t there, and can’t know for sure, but I wonder if this was not a situation that could have, and should have been diffused by a reasonable crew, instead of letting it become the total mess for all concerned that it turned into. We see with the police all the time, that when one group of people are given too much unquestioned authority, they are disincentivized from displaying normal human compassion and tend to escalate a situation rather than deflating it. I’ve seen — and read on these pages — about many such situations.

    I also find the passengers cheering the cops schlepping the guy off the plane to be an interesting and essentially uniform phenomenon in group think which results from the authoritarian nature of modern plane travel. Maybe this guy deserved it, but whether he did or not, there is a troubling social phenomenon at work which results in the joining with the authority and cheering, whether the person deserved it or not.

  2. Planes are for transporting people and cargo from point A to point B, they are not for doing Yoga. Too bad that idiot wasn’t flying his country’s carrier, Korean Air… The crew have tasers.

  3. @Mak…and what do you propose should happen to people who are clearly defying the request/direction of a flight crew member? You have to comply when they have a reasonable request and this was a reasonable request for him to return to his seat. He isn’t entitled to use the plane as his personal yoga studio and isn’t entitled to physically assault people. I don’t care what his reasons may be for his offensive behavior. The fact the other passengers cheered when he was physically removed by authorities is perfectly fine. He assaulted people, and in addition, if I was on that flight and I had my time wasted by this buffoon, I’d be cheering too. If you were on that flight I bet you would be singing a very different tune. He deserved what he got, plain and simple.

  4. Cops are high school pass morons and wannabe rambos. They are given way too much respect and deference in this country. In the UK, cops are written up if they fail to try to deescalate a situation and here cops get away with shooting people.

    What can you do? The country was founded by wannabe rambos.

  5. I love yoga. I practice 3-6x a week. But on a plane, if everyone felt like they could do yoga it would be a chaotic mess of people in the aisles and such. If one person is allowed to do their thing others will start to feel the my should be allowed to do other things…. Which would be no good in an already small space!

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