Passengers stuck on United flight at Bush IAH say they were treated like criminals


by Nakia Cooper / staff

Posted on September 6, 2012 at 5:27 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 6 at 5:27 PM

HOUSTON—Nigeria-bound passengers who were stuck for hours on a United Airlines flight at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport say they were treated like criminals by the flight crew.

The plane was scheduled to leave Bush IAH at 7 p.m. Wednesday, but never took off because the air conditioner was broken. They were told they would have to wait until the A/C was repaired.

They said they were kept on the plane for nearly four hours and were only given one small glass of warm water.

Champs Bakare, who boarded the plane in Chicago and was headed to Lagos, said the conditions were unbearable and the crew did next to nothing.

“It was just steamy. No air, no water, no food. Look at all these little kids,” he said.

Passengers said to make matters worse, police with K-9 units were called when someone complained.

“The whole plane was so hot. There was no cold water. When she asked for ice, they couldn’t give us ice. When someone complained, they went and called police to walk the person out,” said Ms. Harris, another passenger. “I said if they are taken out, then we are all getting out. There were no fights; that was a lie. There was only one single person that complained for cold water.”

Still, passengers said more than a dozen police with dogs were waiting outside the plane when they exited.

“I don’t care. I don’t have anything hidden in my clothing. I’m a free citizen of this country. I’m not going to run because I do not have anything hiding,” Harris said. “The way they treated us was wrong.”

Passengers said their nightmare did not end there. Although they were given hotel and meal vouchers, the instructions did not clearly state where to go. That was very frustrating for some, because they were not familiar with the area.

“Now they give us a paper to go to a variety of hotels. This says Red Roof Inn, no address, no nothing. Look at all those bunch of people standing out there,” Bakare said. “What are we going to be sitting out here until tomorrow?”

Bakare said he felt they were treated poorly because of their race.

“Is this how you treat black people in Houston?” he asked.

The next flight was scheduled to depart Houston at 11 a.m. Thursday.