United Airlines Flight Diverted After Passengers Tried to Upgrade Themselves to Business Class

After returning to its original destination, the flight was canceled.

A United Airlines flight heading to Israel was forced to turn around mid-flight after a pair of passengers tried to upgrade themselves to empty business class seats.

United Flight 90, which departed Newark Liberty International Airport just after 11 p.m. on Thursday bound for Tel Aviv, was forced to turn around near the border of Maine and the Canadian province of New Brunswick "due to disruptive passengers on board," according to FlightAware. The flight arrived back at Newark just under three hours later.

Issues arose when the unruly passengers allegedly helped themselves to a pair of unused business class seats on the half-full flight and then refused to prove they had tickets for the seats, sparking a heated argument, The Times of Israel reported.

After returning to Newark, the flight was canceled, a spokesperson for United confirmed to Travel + Leisure on Monday. In total, there were 123 passengers and 11 crew on board the Boeing 787-10.

"Our team at New York/Newark have provided our customers with meal vouchers and hotel accommodation and have made arrangements for customers to complete their journeys," the spokesperson told T+L.

A United 737-8 Livery on the tarmac
Courtesy of United Airlines

The unruly passengers were not charged as a result of the incident, a spokesperson from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, told CNN.

This is the latest incident in which unruly passengers have forced a pilot to take drastic action. Last year, thousands of incidents of unruly passengers were reported to the Federal Aviation Administration, many concerning people who refused to comply with the federal transportation mask mandate, which has been extended until at least March 18.

In December, the Transportation Security Administration said the agency would revoke membership to its TSA PreCheck program for anyone who is fined by the FAA for bad behavior.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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