United Throws Off Niantic Woman From Midnight Flight Because She Was Acting Sleepy

May 31, 2013
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United Airlines threw off a Niantic woman from a midnight flight to Hartford on April 9 because she was acting sleepy.united_continental_logo_det

Mary Montesi, 46, said she could not believe that the pilot of the United flight from Las Vegas refused to let her fly because he told her she acted “impaired.”

“I could see if I was drunk or belligerent but I didn’t do anything,” Montesi said in a telephone interview. “I don’t know why they treat people that way, it was very upsetting.”

Montesi was flying back to Hartford with her parents, who decided to get off the plane with their daughter so she would not have to stay by herself. The three were put up in a hotel by United and were rebooked to fly back the following day.

However, United refused to unload the family’s luggage from the plane even though her parents told employees that they had their medicine in their luggage.  Mary’s father, Leonard Montes, is diabetic and needs to take two pills daily. He also lost a day’s pay from his job at Electric Boat where he has worked for 48 years.

Mary’s mother, Arlene Montesi thinks she knows why their daughter was kicked off the plane – to make room for a pilot who wanted a seat on the fully booked flight.

Arlene Montesi, who uses a wheelchair, said she was told by the skycap who pushed her wheelchair at the airport about the pilot needing a seat on the flight.

And she said, she saw a man walking toward the plane carrying a pilot’s uniform over his shoulder.

United declined to address the issue of whether that allegation was true or not either with the family, but told CtWatchdog Tuesday that Mary was not thrown off the plane to make room for the pilot.

Our flight crews are committed to the safety and comfort of every customer on board.  When the crew perceives that a customer is unable to follow instructions, they may be asked to take a later flight,” United spokeswoman Jennifer Dohm told CtWatchdog.

She had yet to respond when asked what specific instructions was Mary unable to follow.

When the family returned to Niantic the three wrote complaint letters to United, as well as to the Las Vegas airport management and to the Federal Aviation Administration.

United quickly apologized and gave the family three $400 vouchers.

And after I contacted the airlines, United called Mary and her father on May 29th to ask what else United could do to make up for what happened.

The three were taking the 11:33 p.m. flight from Las Vegas. Mary Montesi said she was tired and took an over the counter sleeping pill so she could fall asleep for the flight back.

After buckling their seat belts a stewardess told Montesi that the pilot wanted to talk to her.

So she and her father went up to the flight cockpit where the captain told them that he could not let Mary fly on his plane because she acted impaired. He said that as the pilot he had the legal right to refuse to let anyone fly on his plane.

Both Mary and Leonard explained to the pilot that Mary had not been drinking and she only took a sleeping pill. However, the pilot did not relent.

In a letter to Leonard Montesi, Sheri A. Wittman, assistant general manager of United’s Las Vegas operations, apologized for “your unfavorable experience.”

“The flight crew had made a judgment call that allowed you not to travel on your Flight 284,” she wrote. “ Your daughter, MaryBeth had taken some sleeping pills before boarding the flight which gave her symptoms of not being able to stay awake which concerned the crew.

“The experience was very embarrassing and demeaning to your family and I apologize for this.”

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4 Responses to United Throws Off Niantic Woman From Midnight Flight Because She Was Acting Sleepy

  1. Ed P on May 31, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Sounds like United was wrong with this and the people should be compensated.

    What is also wrong, putting medication in your luggage. You’d think by now that people would know to carry on needed medicine or medical equipment. Maybe some clean underwear to get you through a day if your luggage is lost or delayed.

  2. BK on May 31, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Another reason to avoid United at all costs. United offers $400 vouchers after insulting and inconveniencing these people so one of their own can catch the flight? United should give these people $400 to fly on a different airline. Who would want to fly United after that fiasco? What arrogance.

  3. Sammi on May 31, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    This headline is as Pennsylvania Dutch as I’ve seen in a while.
    How about “United REMOVES Niantic woman from midnight flight………..”
    “Throws off” sounds idiotic.
    The writer needs a remedial English course.

  4. Glenn on June 1, 2013 at 11:48 am

    I worked on planes for years, which also included working closely with the pilots, when they were ready to fly.

    Pilots go into the cockpit, and start doing their pre-flight checklist, which is quite extensive. They are not wandering in the passenger compartment looking for drowsy passengers.

    Some do godder stewardess ran up there and told him, would be my guess, so he had to make a decision. If he takes off, and miss drowsy starts freaking out, he will have to return to the airport, so they try to avoid that at if possible.

    The pill popper should have waited until they took off.

    The pilot who took her seat, just got lucky.





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