SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5/AP) — A United Airlines pilot was removed from a plane bound for San Francisco International Airport after a bizarre rant about politics and her divorce.
It happened Saturday before United Flight 455 left from Austin, Texas.
The pilot got passengers’ attention when she boarded the plane in her street clothes.
“She shows up dressed like a civilian and asks to us to take a vote to see whether she should change into her uniform or fly as is,” said Pam O’Neal, who was aboard the flight.
Passenger Randy Reiss tweeted, she “asked if we were ok with her flying like that… then says “sorry I’m going through s(sic) divorce.””
She then used the plane’s overhead PA system to rant about President Trump and Hillary Clinton — calling them both “a–holes” and then ranting about her divorce. That’s when passengers began tweeting to United to get a new pilot.
“She started off by saying that she had not voted for either Trump or Clinton because they’re a bunch of liars,” said passenger Noel Portugal. “That’s an odd way to start of the welcome to your flight. It really sort of went downhill from there and didn’t make a lot of sense to any of us.”
About 20 passengers said they didn’t feel safe with her in the cockpit and got off the plane.
Apparently, Reiss was one of them. He left, tweeting, “So, ya’ll i’m shaking right now. I just left my @united flight 455 ‘cos the captain demonstrated that she was not mentally in a safe space.”
“She was not in the right state of mind,” said Portugal. “We were a little afraid having someone that was somewhat unstable flying the plane”
After the pilot was removed he tweeted, “new captain on board. Apologized. We’re off. Radio silence.”
Looking back on the situation he added, “Being a pilot is a tough & stressful job. This particular pilot did not seem emotionally equipped to do that job today. I hope that she gets the help she probably needs.”
United Airlines spokesman Charlie Hobart confirmed the pilot wasn’t in uniform when she boarded the plane. He said the delay lasted about two hours.
Hobart said he didn’t know why the pilot was allowed on the plane in plain clothes or if anyone thought something was amiss before she boarded. He says the company will discuss the incident with the pilot.
In a statement, United said: “We hold our employees to the highest standards and have replaced this pilot with a new one to operate the flight, which has since departed from Austin. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience.”