The Saturday flight from Shanghai hadn't gotten off the ground when, according to a software engineer who shared his experience on Facebook, the man wearing a Make America Great Again hat decided to make his stand. "He insists that, because he couldn't get an upgrade, he's entitled to all three seats next to him even though they're assigned to somebody else," passenger Clark Gredoña wrote.
He continued, "Captain, crew, and airport staff come over. Man threatens that they'll have to drag him off the plane. He finally relents, but not before berating some female passengers and crew, calling one passenger 'Hillary' (lol) and 'lesbian.'"
— Clark Gredona (@clark_gredona) May 21, 2017
Video of the standoff shows the man yelling, "I am entitled to that seat!"
All the passengers had to deplane in Shanghai before local police escorted him off, according to Gredoña.
A clip obtained by NBC shows a boisterous crowd at the gate holding up cameras to film the man's exit and chanting, "Lock him up!"
United spokesman Jonathan Guerin said in an emailed statement, "a customer refused to comply with crew member instructions and became increasingly disruptive when asked to deplane the aircraft. For safety and security reasons, local law enforcement was called to assist and the customer eventually left the aircraft on his own accord."
The plane ultimately took off over five hours after its originally scheduled departure, forcing an unplanned layover in San Francisco. The travelers ultimately landed in Newark at 2:18 a.m., having had 8 extra hours tacked onto what was supposed to be a 14 1/2-hour flight.
It's not clear if the man was arrested.
Gredoña didn't immediately respond to a Facebook message and a tweet seeking further information.