Fired United Flight Attendants Were Scared by Pictures & Words Etched Inside the Engine

This is the photo of the “menacing” drawings and words etched inside the oil slick coating of a B747 engine that caused 13 UA flight attendants to get fired. They refused to work the flight after what they perceived as a safety threat. “Given the gravity of the risks involved — the lives of passengers and crew alike — we were not willing to bow to United’s pressure to ignore an unresolved security threat, even though the company made clear that we risked losing our jobs,” Grace Lam, one of the 13 flight attendants, said in a news release.

United rejected the flight attendants’ request to deplane passengers and conduct a security inspection of the aircraft. The flight ended up being canceled due to lack of available staff and UA fired the 13 attendants for insubordination. They have now opened a whistle-blower complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

United’s response?

United’s flight operations, safety and maintenance teams investigated and determined there was no credible security threat. All of the safety procedures set by the Federal Aviation Administration and United were followed, including a comprehensive safety sweep prior to boarding, leading the pilots, mechanics and safety leaders to deem the aircraft safe to fly. United intends to vigorously defend itself in the case.

OSHA will make a ruling within 60 days. Thoughts?

UA Engine Drawing Words

Comments

  1. The real question is whether FAs are qualified to override the decisions of the pilots, ground staff and other United management who were in position of having more information and training into what actually comprises a security threat (which the drawings did not.)

    All of that is irrelevant under the whistle blower laws and precedents though, as only a “feeling” that the aircraft might be unsafe provides protection from retaliation. That the individual is not qualified to actually to make that determination doesn’t matter.

    In other words, a flight attendant in theory can refuse to work a plane where the landing gear was repaired, despite both the mechanic and pilot signing off on it being fixed as long as they “feel” it’s unsafe.

  2. The FAs took care of the lives of passengers and crew exactly as they should, unlike United. By firing them United just showed its total lack of care about safety of their customers and employees. This is appauling.

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