Did United Offer This Passenger $1000 to Take Their Feet Off the Tray Table?

If there’s one thing we know, it’s that people behave badly on planes. Every. Single. Day.

What will actually get you kicked off of a flight usually involve drinking too much or doing math while someone confuses your Italian heritage for being Muslim.

I totally ‘get’ this man’s frustration in an epic twitter rant about a seat opponent behaving badly on United and seemingly getting away with it. Is she allowed to behave this way because she’s…white? (HT: @gobears99)

I’m not buying the negotiation — a flight attendant splitting hairs over whether it would be ok to have just one foot on the tray, or both feet inches farther away. And if the woman was actually promised a $1000 voucher for putting her feet down, the United Airlines flight attendant was lying.

Look, the white woman on the plane who was tricked into putting her feet down and behaving like something more of a human being isn’t actually getting $1000 from United for doing so. Of course customer service on the phone wouldn’t have any idea of such a thing. Because it’s absurd. That’s not racism, it’s one woman’s gullibility trumping their passenger shaming behavor.

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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  1. It’s white privilege because if the tables were turned, the flight attendant would have demanded he move his feet when they first saw it, and the woman next to him would have thrown a fit about it. There would have been no coaxing or polite “negotiation.”

    White women can get away with almost anything and black men are almost always assumed to be guilty. If you don’t see it, you aren’t paying attention.

  2. @Kyle: You are confused. You have absolutely zero idea what the flight attendant would have done had the perpetrator been black. You are just inventing stories to support your warped views.

    The woman wasn’t getting away with anything. Although she is a disgusting bitch, the simple fact is that there is no rule which states you cannot rest your feet on the drop-down table in front of you. Should there be a rule? Probably. But there isn’t one now.

    You do have a point about whether to believe a white woman or a black man would most likely resolve in the woman’s favor. That may one day change, though, when white women make up the overwhelming majority of the prison population instead of black males. But we all know that will never happen.

  3. Has this guy flown before? I watch far more uncivilized black people on airplanes than white people. Sorry, my observation. Regardless, this has nothing to do with what color she was, she was acting like a brat but it’s not the FAs job to police crap like this. They need to focus on more important things like killing dogs. Too soon?

  4. People keep your feet on the floor. The plane is not your house.

    You don’t act this way at the doctor’s office or church.

  5. @Kyle that’s probably true … but a black woman would get away with this no question … so seems more like female privlege than white privlege?

  6. @Kyle is right. People like J.C. who constantly deny white privilege have such an unreasonable standard for proof that completely is divorced from reality. And that statement J.C. made about prison was ridiculously racist too. Guess what? The prison population disparity is due to….white privilege and racism. Christ, JC I hope you’re some kind of red state baby boomer so that we don’t have to listen to your blatant ignorance when you quickly pass away from opioid overdose.

  7. This is dumb. I seriously doubt this is a white privilege deal. I’d be much more inclined to believe it’s a female privilege deal. I guarantee a man of any race would be more likely to be told his feet are gross over a woman of any race.

  8. I call BS, this story does not sound likely or believable. This woman is a caricature of “privilege”, and the story is barely plausible. It’d be pretty rare to see someone actually behave that way, and with the way air travel is these days, extremely surprising for airline staff to accommodate them, more likely they’ve be spoke to sharply, and threatened with law enforcement or similar. And the $1000 voucher after such a brief and unreasonable encounter, and the excuse as to why the alleged victim can’t have one don’t sound like anything that happens in the real world.

    You’re a smart guy Gary, more inclined to cool-headed analysis. Why does everybody drop their BS radar when race, gender or sexuality is invoked? In fact, a large proportion of “hate crimes” turn out to be exaggerated, untrue or falsified.

  9. White people just don’t get it. It pointless trying to explain it to you. Simply baffling that a lot of you think we re all treated equally. Very convenient but extremely far from reality. Observe the world around you.

  10. 9/10 this conversation between this guy and girl never happened. He took a picture of her feet up and made up a delusional story about white privilege, racism and victimhood.

  11. Also, there’s only one photo that shows very little, all of these tweets were tweeted within a minute, and he claims to know the skin colour of the person on the other end of the phone. Did he ask? Or did he assume? Neither flatters him. Sad.

  12. @Ray: Wear that extra chromosome like a badge of honor, don’t you? You keep pulling stories out of your fat ass about why you are a failure. “Your honor, it was blatant white privilege that made me shoot that old lady. It’s not fair she drives a nice car and I can’t. This is only my third felony so I deserve probation.” How’s that for reality, Jethro? “Judge, I shouldn’t go to prison. Just like the white guy before me who got probation, I only have committed this one drive-by shooting. Well, that is one in this state. The other seven across the state line in another state don’t count.”

    We need to set up a Go Fund Me so you can have that extra chromosome surgically removed. Will your parole officer object?

  13. I’m not white and I don’t think this was white privilege. One has to be very careful to play the race card given its immutability.

    There’s no clear definition of etiquette on board an aircraft, and yet at the same time your “personal space” doesn’t extend beyond your armrests.

    I oftentimes feel bad for flight attendants who are asked to police human relations.

  14. @Mo — I’m certainly not saying there’s equal treatment, just the idea that the woman was actually getting $1000 from United is absurd so if she was told that she was the one being made a fool of..

  15. White privilege? Seriously? Couldn’t be that some people are just rude, can it? It always has to be part of some conspiracy. Ok, fine, it’s white privilege, whatever you say. To a hammer every problem is a nail.

  16. @Mo: I din’t think anybody is treated equally across the board. It’s been this way since the Stone Ages. Where I don’t agree with you is that it’s all a big, bad racial divide.

    Seriously, Mo, what would help make your point palatable would be if you could throw up a comprehensive list of millions of relevant data points … an in-depth analysis. Surely someone should be able to do that. That way we wouldn’t have to deal with abstract hypotheticals.

  17. @j.c that data point has been provided for us through out history you just conviently chose to not acknowledge it. There is a racial devide and white privalge is evident globaly. How much more do you need to prove this. Merley just open your eyes. White privlage also seams to make you oblivious to the world aroyund you. Still baffling to me that people in 2018 can argue people are not treated diffrently beucuse thier race. This is clear in all of institutions and social order. Mind blowing.

  18. @Mo: Then prove it. The Earth isn’t flat just because someone says it is. Use science and empirical data to prove your point. Otherwise it’s nothing but whining.

  19. Frederick is an embarrassment to my race (& likely a liar) & Mo is likely a white guy embarrassing himself trying to be a white savior for my race. Yes racism exists but it’s not around every corner & under every bed or institutionalized as some people have convinced themselves to make up for their personal failures. I’ve been quite successful as a black man living in America & wouldn’t trade it for anything.

  20. When white men are forcing their experience on minority groups….LOL!!! Smh

    You will be shocked at the experiences of some black, asian, latino people in the USA of Trump

  21. Interesting everyone believed the story of the dead dog on united but asking for more evidence in this case. Smh

  22. Gary, why are you posting garbage like this? Look at the shit storm you’ve created in the comments.

  23. Oh come one. Is this a trump posting of fake news just trying to bring up the racism thing? Watch more Star Wars discovery.

  24. @polypoly

    Funnily enough I suffered more racism as a non white during the Obama era. YMMV as they say

  25. The twitter guy’s first line in his feed is “marketer” also he runs a “wehavestories” website. Yah. This is smells of a wayyy overhyped story. If it wasn’t, he’s technically savvy and I’m sure would have recorded the ordeal if it played out as portrayed. Good for him, I’m sure he just got 3,000 twitter followers over this so, mission accomplished

  26. @J.C. You’re wrong, there is a rule against people putting their feet up on tray tables and right against other people’s food: it’s called manners.

    The same way that there’s no “rule” (i.e. no T&Cs, terms of carriage, other contractual provision or law) that prevents a passenger from picking their nose, taking snot out and sticking it on their tray table – but it is still disgusting, against common courtesy and completely bad mannered to do it, and would totally deserve a reprimand from the crew if brought to their attention.

  27. This has nothing to do with white privilege. It is all about the lack of manners pervasive in today’s society, and the airlines’ refusal to do anything about the behavior or attire of those on board. I was seated in the aisle seat first row of F on AA. Across the aisle from me was a 18 or 19 year old girl traveling with her parents who were seated behind her. She looked disheveled and messy like she just got out of bed and had put her filthy disgusting bare feet high up on the bulkhead. The FA saw me roll my eyes several times and did nothing. Her parents were aware of the position of their daughter’s feet. Meals arrive and she still has her offensive feet on the bulkhead. When I am served, I ask the FA to request that she put her feet down and out of my sight. FA says she can’t do that because they are told allow passengers to do pretty much what they want, particularly in F. So I ask the girl, who rolls her eyes at me, and then ask the parents to ask their daughter, and they say she isn’t bothering anyone and I am the one who is wrong and overly sensitive, and I just shouldn’t look there. What a privileged girl…her parents take her on vacation, get her a seat in F (which should be occupied by someone who might appreciate it), and her parents condone her offensive behavior. The airlines need to establish rules…restaurants do…no bare feet, no men in open toe shoes (most women, unlike this girl, get pedicures), no men in tank tops, no feet on tray tables or bulkheads, no diaper changing in the aisle, go to the lav if you need to blow your nose hard….I could go on forever. And while I am complaining…if you are in the aisle or center seats, and happen to board prior to those in the center and window seats, do not set up your mobile office until those to your right or left are in their seats. Your will just have to unplug and close everything so that others can access their seats and you are delaying boarding!

  28. I feel that the racially biassed comments expressed by readers on this site are inflammatory and have no place in modern society. Gary, how about your instruct the site moderators to remove any comments that infer race bias in future, it would set a positive standard that many other blogs with mainly American readers should emulate.

  29. White women, and white men for that matter, are given the benefit of the doubt in this country more often then not when it comes to their word against that of a person of color. We are also less likely in general to receive empathy when we experience a slight. It’s called a racial empathy gap and it’s been studied. That maybe the reason why so many people so reluctant to support this man’s version of events.


  30. @Mike: Manners is a fluid concept that means different things to different people. I have yet to see Miss Manners or Ann Landers codified by the federal or any state government.

    If someone is picking their nose, putting their feet on the table, wearing something you don’t like … if it’s not set in stone somewhere and you can’t reason with the people, your only choice is to like it or lump it. It’s pretty much like when people recline their seat and you don’t like it. That’s life.

  31. To my heavily melanated people. Please stay off of these “whypipo” platforms and just wait for them to show up where they don’t belong! You won’t win here. Cleanliness nor respect for others is their strong point. Since its been said there’s no rules against it, He should have put his feet on her table and demanded to be compensated for removing them! #whypipo ‍♀️

  32. @Mo: Thanks. That’s a start. Not that a lot of it isn’t bogus, but it’s still a starting point. Thank you.

  33. @ Iam Wankindat: Yes, he well could have put his feet up on the table and refused to remove them. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander here. Get help reading. The lady didn’t get $1,000. She was lied to just to get her to comply. #blapipo

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