‘Disruptive passengers’ forced United flight to turn around


United Airlines says “disruptive passengers” caused a flight headed to Tel Aviv, Israel, to turn around and return to Newark, New Jersey. The flight was canceled.


A United Airlines flight bound for Tel Aviv, Israel, was forced to return to the U.S. mid-flight because of “disruptive passengers,” the airline said.

As a result, the international flight was canceled.

United Flight 90 left Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey on Jan. 20 and then reversed its course to head back to the airport where law enforcement officials were waiting following the conduct of some passengers on board, an airline spokesperson said in a statement.

Two Israeli passengers reportedly attempted to upgrade themselves to empty business class seats about 90 minutes into the flight, according to The Times of Israel and Israeli media reports.

An argument broke out between the two passengers and members of the flight crew after the pair wouldn’t provide proof that they were in the correct seats before the plane returned to the U.S., the Times reported.

Ultimately, the passengers weren’t charged by law enforcement upon return to the Newark airport, according to CNN.

“Our team at New York/Newark have provided our customers with meal vouchers and hotel accommodation and have made arrangements for customers to complete their journeys,” the United Airlines spokesperson said.

In 2021 alone, there were 5,981 reports of “unruly” passengers made by airline crews in the U.S., according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Of those, 350 “enforcement actions” were initiated.

Julia Marnin is a McClatchy National Real-Time reporter covering the southeast and northeast while based in New York. She’s an alumna of The College of New Jersey and joined McClatchy in 2021. Previously, she’s written for Newsweek, Modern Luxury, Gannett and more.

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