Travel writer thrown off United Airlines flight for taking one photo of his seat
Never fly United.
I looked at the FA, smiled, but said nothing, putting my iPhone away. To be clear, I did not take any more pictures—not a single one. Meanwhile, another passenger was taking pictures behind the curtain and the FA ran over to him and demanded that he stop as well. This passenger had a lively discussion with the FA, though I did not hear the resolution.
Naturally, the FA's warning bothered me and I felt the need to explain myself. I signaled for her to come back and asked her to hang my coat. I then said this verbatim—
"I want you to understand why I was taking pictures. I hope you didn't think I was a terrorist. Here is my business card [offering her one]. I write about United Airlines on an almost-daily basis and the folks at United in Chicago are even aware of my blog."
She took my jacket but refused to take my business card saying, "No, that's okay," then saying, "I did not know that" after I explained my reason for taking pictures. I again emphasize, I took no more pictures.
A few minutes later a Global Services rep came onboard and asked to have a word with me, motioning for me to follow him. As I walked up front, I noticed the FA who had reprimanded me earlier ducked into the front galley and out of sight.
He was direct—"The captain is not comfortable with you on this flight. You'll need to gather your things and we'll find another way to get you to Istanbul." I was flabbergasted. My first thought was that they had the wrong passenger—they must have wanted the passenger who was arguing.
The GS rep stepped into the galley, around the corner, and asked the FA to verify it was me. She leaned forward, our eyes briefly meant, then she quickly hid herself again. Yes, she meant me.
I asked to speak to the captain—surely this was a ridiculous misunderstanding. The GS rep would not let me approach the flight deck but offered to talk to the captain on my behalf. He stepped into the cockpit for a few minutes and a few minutes later the captain emerged. He would not look me in the eyes as we spoke.