Denver man vows off United Airlines after emergency landing in Lubbock

Denver man vows off United Airlines after emergency landing in Lubbock
Source: KCBD Video
Source: KCBD Video
John Murray (Source: KCBD Video)
John Murray (Source: KCBD Video)

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A United Airlines passenger has sworn off the airline after an emergency landing at Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport on Saturday.

The plane landed around 8 p.m. after reports of fumes in the cockpit.

John Murray said in all, it took him 15 hours to get from Atlanta to Denver.

He said Saturday's experience with United was so mentally and physically exhausting, he was left with no other choice but to quit flying them altogether.

"We were supposed to board at 4:11 p.m. – that never happened," said John Murray, a professional DJ from Denver.

However for Murray, waiting an hour before taking off wasn't the only thing frustrating him on Saturday.

"Even leaving Atlanta, there felt like there was a weight issue," Murray said.

He said while it was smooth sailing for awhile, the tide turned about three hours into the flight.

"The screens go blank, the wi-fi is completely shut-off."

Murray said that's when his row called over a flight attendant.

"They were like can't give you any answers, don't have anything for you."

He said what happened next created fear not only for him, but for other passengers aboard.

"About 10 minutes later, the captain gets on the intercom and said we're going to make a precautionary landing in Lubbock, Texas…..we'll be on the ground in nine minutes."

However, "precautionary" was a term he wasn't buying.

"45,000 feet down to the runway in nine minutes, that's not precautionary at all, that's, that's an emergency landing."

He said the landing itself was even scarier.

"It really felt like, as soon as we landed, it felt like all the reverse thrust was gone, they were trying to use like brakes that you use on your car to slow your plane down."

Murray said by that point, passengers could smell fumes. What happened next caught him off-guard.

"They say...we're really sorry, but we can't de-plane you…we're actually afraid that the plane is going to tip over," Murray said.

Murray said while they were hopeful the worst was over, when they got inside the airport, they found out their ordeal was not over.

"We were literally the only people in the whole airport. So, United came to us and their idea of taking care of the situation was crackers and sodas off the plane – and saying, this is all we've got for you," Murray said.

Kelly Campbell, executive director at Lubbock International Airport, said there was a reason they were the only people inside the airport.

"Our restaurant concession areas are just required to stay open through the last departure. If the concessionaire knows that we're gonna get diversions, they will stay," Campbell said.

Following this weekend's experience, Murray has one distinct message for the airline.

"Get your act together. Safety is the number one issue, maintain your planes better."

Murray said United offered the passengers either 7,500 travel miles, or a $150 voucher.

United did release a statement saying:

We deeply apologize to our customers for their experience while traveling with us on United Flight 453. Our crew elected to divert to Lubbock, Texas, last night after noticing an odor in the cabin and landed safely. We worked to ensure our customers had snacks and beverages while in the gate area at Lubbock, and our customers later departed the airport on a different aircraft, arriving in Denver earlier this morning. We are reaching out to our customers to apologize and offer compensation.

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