These Shocking Airline Controversies Make Us Wonder If Airlines Have Any Regard for Their Passengers’ Well Being

Airlines have come under fire in recent years for various controversies. Some have involved deaths, and others have been extremely inconvenient for the passengers involved. Here’s a timeline of several incidents that stirred up serious controversy, making us wonder if airlines have any regard at all for their passengers.

Two young girls were banned from boarding a United flight because of their outfits

United Airlines Boeing 787 at San Francisco International Airport

United Airlines turned these ticketed passengers away. | Laser1987/iStock/Getty Images

In March 2017, United came under fire for not allowing two teens to board a flight because they were wearing leggings. The airline said that per the agent’s discretion, they can turn away anyone who is improperly clothed. The incident created a storm on social media. Travelers argued that leggings are a widely accepted form of clothing many people wear without incident when flying. But the two girls were also using an employee benefit pass, which some travelers said implies they should have been more dressed up.

Next: A flight attendant was suspended over an altercation involving a stroller. 

An American Airlines flight attendant was grounded over forcefully removing a baby’s stroller

This American Airlines attendant was suspended for their behavior. | Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

In April 2017, one woman tried to bring her baby’s stroller on the plane and said she had it forcefully removed by a flight attendant who also hit her with it. The altercation was recorded, and the woman was seen crying while a male bystander intervened, yelling at the flight attendant. The flight attendant then egged the man on saying, “Hit me.” The flight attendant was then removed from the plane and suspended. American issued an apology to the woman and said in a statement that the flight attendant’s actions were very disappointing.

Next: One family was threatened with jail when they refused to give up a seat they had paid for. 

The parents of two toddlers were threatened with jail time over a ticket problem on a Delta flight

delta airlines jet

Can Delta send someone to jail? | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In April 2017, a family of four was booted from a Delta flight and threatened with jail time when the father attempted to use a ticket for his toddler that he’d originally purchased for his teenage son. The father said he sent the teenager home on an earlier flight so the toddler would have a place for his car seat. Agents then told the man he’d have to give his seat to another passenger even though he paid for it, which led to an argument. The flight attendants were also giving false information to the man about FAA rules. The altercation was recorded, and Delta issued an apology and said it would work to settle the matter with the family.

Next: Pilots protested by not flying planes for this airline, and chaos ensued. 

Pilots failed to show up for scheduled flights, causing major cancellations for Spirit Airlines

Pilots didn’t show up to fly planes for Spirit. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In May 2017, nine Spirit Airlines flights out of Fort Lauderdale were canceled due to pilots’ failure to show up. The airline said pilots did not claim open flights, so the airline had no one to fly the planes. Near-riots ensued, forcing the police to get involved. Several arrests were made, and more than 500 people were without flights. Passengers said there was nowhere to stand or sit, and everyone was extremely angry.

Next: A puppy’s life was cut short when this flight attendant didn’t know the rules. 

A dog suffocated in an overhead bin on a United flight

French Bull Dog

A French Bulldog died on a United flight. | Chris Amaral/Getty Images

In March 2018, a flight attendant wrongly instructed a woman to put her dog in an overhead bin for the duration of the flight. By the time the plane landed, the dog had died. United released a statement saying it was a “tragic accident that should have never occurred.” The flight attendant said she did not realize it was a real dog. United also has the highest rate of pet deaths of any major United States airline.

Next: This airline forcefully tied a handicapped woman to her wheelchair. 

Delta employees tied a woman to her wheelchair

Delta tied a disabled customer to her wheelchair. | Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

In April 2018, the son of a Delta airlines passenger told the media that his mother, who has multiple sclerosis, was tied to a wheelchair by the Delta staff when they didn’t have a chair that could accommodate her. Delta released a statement apologizing and offered the family 20,000 airline miles. But now, the woman’s family wants the airline to change its disability policies. The woman’s son also said the airline employees were cursing at her and made her cry.

Next: A family is suing this airline for refusing to make an emergency landing, leading to a death. 

One woman fell ill and later died after American Airlines refused to make an emergency landing

American Airlines airplane taking off at Dallas - Ft Worth (DFW) Airport in Texas.

The airline refused to land despite doctor’s orders. | Aneese/iStock/Getty Images

In April 2018, one family filed a lawsuit against American Airlines for the 2016 death of a 25-year-old female passenger, claiming that American’s refusal to make an emergency landing played a significant role in the young woman’s death. Brittany Oswell suffered an embolism while on a flight from Honolulu to Texas. A doctor on the flight told the crew to land, but the airline chose not to. The lawsuit also alleges that a defibrillator on the airline did not work.

Next: This woman said she was discriminated against for being ‘fat and black.’ 

One woman accused American Airlines of calling the police on her because of her race

Airplane flying

This passenger says she was racially profiled. | Den-belitsky/iStock/Getty Images

In April 2018, Amber J. Phillips had just gotten off an American Airlines flight when she was confronted by police for causing a nuisance. But she insists that she was targeted for being “fat and black.” The airline said that the woman seated next to her requested to call the police because she had felt “uncomfortable” since the woman kept bumping arms with her during the flight. The airline said that when a passenger requests the police become involved, it is the airline’s obligation to comply. Phillips said the plane was incredibly tiny, which explains bumping arms. She felt she was targeted for her race and size.

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