They couldn't handle the truth.

Andrea Romano
August 25, 2017

A rule of thumb when talking to passengers: Choose your words wisely. Of course, pilots and flight crew usually do.

One pilot on a United Airlines flight bound for Newark from Chicago on Tuesday made many passengers uneasy while the plane was still at the gate. The flight had already experienced a two-hour delay, which contributed to the tense atmosphere.

According to the people on board, the pilot said over the speaker that they would be flying through “horrific storms including tornadoes.”

After the pilot’s announcement, a flight attendant came on the speaker system to try and calm passengers’ fears.

“We would never put our crew or our passengers in a situation where it was unsafe to fly. The safety of the passengers and the crew is always our No. 1 priority,” United Airlines spokeswoman Natalie Noonan told NJ.com.

Noonan also clarified that the announcement was to tell passengers that there were tornado warnings in parts of Pennsylvania, which meant that the plane would need to remain in the air longer than expected.

By the time the plane taxied away from the gate, the pilot returned over the intercom to announce a maintenance issue. To make matters worse, the crew that “timed out” their work hours and a new crew had to come to replace them.

At that point, over 50 frustrated passengers decided to deplane, including passenger Pamela Kent of Princeton, New Jersey.

“It was a general feeling of being rattled. You want a pilot to have confidence. There was not that feeling,” Kent said to NJ.com.

The 5:54 p.m. flight finally took off at 1:14 a.m. on Wednesday morning and landed in Newark at 3:58 a.m.

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