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Baltimore family removed from United Airlines flight

MoviesAir Transportation IndustryUnited AirlinesCirque du Soleil: Worlds Away (movie)FBIParental Guidance (movie)

A Baltimore-bound United Airlines flight was diverted and a local family removed from the plane after the parents complained about the content of an in-flight movie.

The February incident resulted in the passengers being escorted off the flight by police at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, the family said, relaying the experience anonymously in a response to an article about air rage posted on The Atlantic Monthly's website.

In a statement released to The Sun, United Airlines said Flight 683 from Denver to Baltimore was diverted to Chicago after the crew reported a disturbance involving a passenger.

"The flight landed without incident and the customers were removed from the aircraft. We reaccommodated the customers on the next flight to Baltimore and have since conducted a full review of our inflight entertainment."

The family said they were traveling with their two young boys, ages 4 and 8, from Denver to BWI-Marshall Airport on Feb. 2 when the film "Alex Cross" was shown on drop-down screens above the seats during the flight. The Tyler Perry movie, rated PG-13, follows a homicide detective on the trail of a serial killer who tortures his victims.

The parents were "alarmed by the opening scenes," which they said included explicit content and violence. They asked the flight attendants to turn off the monitor nearest their seats, but were told that was not possible.

"The first flight attendant also claimed that the screen could not be folded up independently (which it clearly could) and that even if it could, she would still not authorize closing it because of the passengers sitting behind us."

Eventually, the parents asked if the captain had the authority to intervene on their behalf. After receiving no response, they asked for the pilot's name, but were told to "ask him ourselves when we disembark."

Instead, the family ended up in Chicago after it was announced that the plane was being diverted due to security concerns.

"After landing a Chicago police officer boarded the plane and, to our disbelief, approached us and asked that we collect our belongings, and follow her to disembark," the family wrote.

They said they were then subjected to background checks and a short interview by an FBI agent before being booked on another flight to Baltimore, which required them "to linger in the terminal for hours with our exhausted and terrified little boys."

Jennifer Dohm, a spokeswoman for United Airlines, said in-flight movies are chosen based on what passengers like.

"On aircraft where on-demand entertainment isn’t available, we show options that the majority of our customers have told us they want," she said.

On its website, the airline lists planned inflight-entertainment each month. For April, on domestic and international flights of three hours or longer, the airline is showing films that include "Parental Guidance," "Cirque du Soleil:Worlds Away," "Playing for Keeps" and "Quartet."

The family said their complaints to United's customer service have gone unanswered. In annual Airline Quality Ratings released on Monday, United Airlines had the highest rate of complaints.

"Had this been in a cinema or a restaurant, we would have simply left if the content were too violent, or too sexual, for a preschooler and a 2nd grader," the family wrote on The Atlantic website. "Cruising at 30,000 feet, leaving was not an option."

michelle.deal@baltsun.com

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