Flight Attendants Fired After Refusing to Fly Plane with Mysterious Markings

Photo: David Marshall

Thirteen flight attendants are fighting back after being fired by United Airlines for refusing to fly on a 747-400 with mysterious messages written on the tail section.

The attendants were scheduled to fly from San Francisco International Airport to Hong Kong when finger drawings depicting the words "Bye Bye" along with a smiley face and a menacing face were found on the airplane's tail cone.

The group has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor alleging that the attendants were illegally terminated after refusing "to let an airline bully them into flying because of what they believed, correctly, was a security threat," says attorney David Marshall, who is representing them.

The complaint alleges that United refused the flight attendants' request that the company have the more than 300 passengers onboard deplane and conduct a sweep of the aircraft for potentially threats. The incident came just a week after the airline implemented heightened security measures due to the elevated risk of on-board explosives.

United representatives say the pilots and mechanics had deemed the aircraft "entirely safe to fly" and that they properly investigated the incident at the time and determined it did not pose a safety threat. The company says it intends to vigorously fight the litigation.

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