As United Flight 1061 began its runway taxi passengers noticed a burning sensation in their throats and began coughing. The Newark-bound flight originated in Fort Meyers, Florida and ultimately had to return to the gate where passengers were told to ride it out, or they could leave the plane.
According to a Florida-based Fox News channel, the United Airlines flight had just departed the gate on Monday when passengers began coughing. Passenger Joseph Grande commented on the ordeal:
“One of the gentlemen in the exit row, which was like two rows in front of me to my left, was like oh, I accidentally hit this thing on my key chain,” Grande told Fox News 4.
Apparently, a fellow passenger managed to get a small key-chain sized can of pepper spray through the TSA checkpoint. Pepper spray, of course, is illegal to carry on to a plane and should not have been allowed to pass through the checkpoint.
Ultimately, the plane returned to the gate where passengers were allegedly given the right to continue on the plane or disembark. Indeed, Grande, told Fox 4, “TSA tells us people were given the option to get off the plane or to ride it out. “
Apparently, Grande’s fiance has asthma so they left the plane only to find United unwilling to help. Grande’s situation worsened as he quickly learned United was not interested in accommodating him or his fiance.
“I was like, is there a taxi credit that I can use, or a hotel? And they are like no, United didn’t inconvenience you, this is someone else. So technically we are not even going to help you out,” Grande shared.
There is no indication the passenger carrying the pepper spray had ill intent and it appears that the discharge was accidental.