United Agent Cancels Passenger’s Reservation After They Videotape Each Other

May 9, 2017

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Update 5:20pm: United has responded to our request for comment with the following statement:

“The video does not reflect the positive customer experience we strive to offer and for that we apologize. We are reviewing this situation, including talking with Mr. Oza and our employees, to better understand what happened.”

With so many airline videos going viral nowadays, it’s no surprise that some airline agents don’t want to be captured on video. But one United agent in New Orleans was so unhappy when a passenger began filming her that she cancelled his reservation on the spot.

The incident occurred over the weekend in the early morning hours at the airport in New Orleans (MSY), when Navang Oza, 37, a resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, attempted to check an oversized bag. According to NBC Bay Area—KNTV, the confrontation began when Oza was told it would cost $300 to check the bag. Oza mentioned that the same bag cost only $125 to check on the way to New Orleans.

Frustrated, Oza pulled out his phone and began filming the agent. She reacted by telling him he did not have her permission to videotape, then turning to another nearby agent and telling her to “cancel the reservation.” A heated argument ensued between the passenger and the agent, and the agent instructed another nearby agent to “call the cops.” Then she pulled out her own smartphone and began filming Oza filming her, telling him “I’ll do the same thing.”

Oza has posted video of a portion of the interaction to Twitter:

When interviewed by NBC Bay Area, Oza admitted to having alcohol in his system and not having slept much at the time of the incident, but he didn’t believe he did anything wrong by filming the agent. After his reservation was canceled, he ended up purchasing a ticket on another airline to get home. He is asking United to reimburse him for the costs of that ticket and to cancel and refund his already booked future travel without having to pay a fee.

As Gary Leff from View From The Wing noted, in 2014 United published in Hemispheres — its inflight magazine — the airline’s “Onboard Photo and Video Policy” states in part that…

“Any photography or recording of other customers or airline personnel without their express prior consent is strictly prohibited. Any photography (still or video) or recording (audio or video) of airline procedures or aircraft equipment is strictly prohibited, except to the extent prior approval has been specifically granted by United Airlines.”

However, that particular policy regards “onboard” photography — in this case, the passenger was filming in the check-in area. When airport police eventually arrived, an officer informed Oza that “you have the right to do whatever you want. It’s a public space.”

The Points Guy has reached out to both United and Mr. Oza regarding this incident and will update this post with comments from either of the parties.

H/T: View From The Wing

Featured image from video by Navang Oza.

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