United pilot freaks out passengers with 'horrific' tornado warning
The pilot of a Newark-bound United flight delivered a chilling warning that kicked up a storm among his terrified passengers, according to a report.
He announced that the flight — which had already been delayed in Chicago two hours on Tuesday — would encounter terrible storms, including twisters, passengers told NJ.com.
“He seemed angry,” said Pamela Kent, a Princeton resident who was traveling with her daughter Jessica. “He said, ‘We’re going to be flying through horrific storms, including tornadoes.’”
Adding to the apocalyptic atmosphere, the pilot also instructed passengers on the overbooked flight to “get to know your neighbors,” Kent said.
The pilot then returned to the cockpit and closed the door, she added.
The passengers were so terrified that a flight attendant made an announcement to try to allay fears blowing through the cabin — saying the pilot didn’t mean it would be unsafe to fly.
There were tornado warnings across Warren County in New Jersey and in parts of Pennsylvania late Tuesday as heavy rain pummeled the mid-Atlantic region.
When the plane finally prepared to taxi, the pilot got back on the intercom to notify the passengers that the plane had to return to the gate because of a maintenance issue, Kent said.
That was the last straw for about 50 passengers, including Kent, who demanded to be let off to seek alternate ways to reach Newark.
“It was a general feeling of being rattled,” she said. “You want a pilot to have confidence. There was not that feeling.”
By then, the crew also had “timed out” of their shift and had to be replaced, NJ.comreported.
The 5:54 p.m. flight finally took off at 1:14 a.m. Wednesday and landed in Newark at 3:58 a.m.
United Airlines said it was looking into the incident.
“We would never put our crew or our passengers in a situation where it was unsafe to fly,” airline spokeswoman Natalie Noonan said. “The safety of the passengers and the crew is always our No. 1 priority.”
This article originally appeared in the New York Post.