United Captain Scares the Wits Out Of Passengers Warning They’ll Be Flying Into Tornadoes

Tuesday afternoon’s United flight UA1997 from Chicago O’Hare to Newark was delayed until Wednesday as a result of mid-Atlantic thunderstorms, returning to the gate, a maintenance issue and deplaning twice — and the crew exceeding their maximum allowable duty time.

Weather happens, and the airline is only going to fly when it’s safe to do so. However the plane’s captain apparently scared the wits out of several of the passengers onboard.

The pilot of a United Airlines flight bound for Newark Tuesday night freaked out passengers before takeoff when he warned the plane would be flying through “horrific storms including tornadoes,” according to people on board.

The warning, broadcast over the plane’s speakers, so unnerved the passengers that a flight attendant took to the microphone in an attempt to calm fears on the flight, which had already been delayed two hours, passenger Pamela Kent said.

“He seemed angry,” said Kent, a Princeton resident, who was traveling with her daughter Jessica. “He said ‘we’re going to be flying through horrific storms including tornadoes.'”

You can imagine the frustration of passengers building — from the weather, the mechanical, and the need for replacement crew. And that’s even before the Captain gives passengers a sense of danger.

Things happen, and they sometimes cluster around a single plane. But in this case it wasn’t just passengers who found the Captain’s words odd and less than reassuring.

A flight attendant felt the need to get on the PA and ‘soften’ things a bit, “There’s nothing to be concerned about… planes fly all over the country every day… I hope that answers everyone’s questions.”

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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