United Flight Diverted Over In-Flight Movie Complaint

A United flight was diverted and a family with small children met by the FBI

ByABC News
April 5, 2013, 9:10 AM

Aprill 5, 2013— -- A United Airlines flight was diverted and a family with small children met by the FBI and removed from the plane, all because the parents asked that the movie "Alex Cross" be turned off from the overhead movie screens on their flight.

In a letter to The Atlantic Magazine, the family -- who have not been named -- said that on United flight 638 from Denver to Baltimore, the PG-13 movie was "Alex Cross," about a homicide detective that has violent scenes. The parents believed the movie was inappropriate for their 4- and 8-year old boys, but because it was being shown on drop down screens, they couldn't turn it off themselves.

"Alarmed by the opening scenes, we asked two flight attendants if they could turn off the monitor; both claimed it was not possible," the letter reads. One of the flight attendants said it was not possible to fold up the screen.

The letter states other passengers and even flight crew agreed the movie was not appropriate. Still, it could not be turned off. The family asked for the captain's name and were not given it, being told they could ask when they disembarked.

"Throughout these interactions the atmosphere was collegial, no voices were raised and no threats, implicit or explicit, of any kind were made. The flight continued without incident, while my wife and I engaged our children to divert their attention from the horrific scenes on the movie screens."

An hour later during the February 2 flight, the captain came on the PA and said the plane was being diverted to Chicago for "security concerns." The flight landed and a Chicago police officer boarded the plane and asked the family to come with her. The family was then questioned by the FBI.

"The captain, apparently, felt that our complaint constituted grave danger to the aircraft, crew and the other passengers, and that this danger justified inconveniencing his crew, a few of whom 'timed out' during the diversion, and a full plane of your customers, causing dozens of them to miss their connections, wasting time, precious jet fuel, and adding to United's carbon footprint. Not to mention unnecessarily involving several of Chicago's finest, two Border Protection officers and several United and ORD managers, and an FBI agent, who all met us at the gate."

The letter states the FBI questioning lasted less than five minutes and they were let go.

In a statement to ABC News, the airline only said, "United flight 638 from Denver to Baltimore diverted to Chicago O'Hare after the crew reported a disturbance involving a passenger. The flight landed without incident and the passengers were removed from the aircraft. We reaccommodated the customers on the next flight to Baltimore and have since conducted a full review of our inflight entertainment."