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Passenger On United Airlines Flight Asks Reddit For Advice When The Plane’s Wing Seems to Disintegrate and Gets Reassuring Advice

Passenger On United Airlines Flight Asks Reddit For Advice When The Plane’s Wing Seems to Disintegrate and Gets Reassuring Advice

a close up of an airplane wing

A passenger onboard a United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Boston on Monday logged onto the social media site Reddit using the plane’s inflight Wi-Fi to ask why the wing appeared to be disintegrating and to seek advice as to whether he should alert the flight crew to the seemingly unnerving situation.

Thankfully, fellow Redditors (as contributors are referred to on the site) quickly came to the rescue, reassuring the passenger that while it wasn’t an ideal situation, it wasn’t a “huge issue”.

The passenger, who goes by the name ‘octopus_hub14’ on Reddit posted to the unofficial United Airlines forum: “Sitting right on the wing and the noise after reaching altitude was much louder than normal.”

“I opened the window to see the wing looking like this. How panicked should I be? Do I need to tell a flight crew member?”

The photo showed what appeared to be paint and metal disintegrating from the slats on the starboard wing. As the flight continued, the passenger posted several other photos, revealing that even more metal had come away from the wing.

One Redditor quickly offered reassuring advice: “This is a known (albeit rare) failure point on the 757. It’s not a huge issue, but can cause control issues and buffeting due to irregular airflow over the wing. Non-emergency diversion is the standard procedure for this.”

And another posted: “its ok! not an emergency!”

Several other Redditors even took the time to educate the passenger on what exactly he was looking at on the wing after he mistakenly referred to the part of the wing as the flaps.

The flaps are located on the trailing edge of the wing, whereas the slats are on the leading edge. Both the flaps and slats, however, are designed to deploy at lower speeds in order to increase lift.

After the flight crew became aware of the issue, the pilots of the Boeing 757 decided to divert to Denver, where United arranged for a new plane to take the 165 passengers the rest of the way to Boston.

In a statement, United told us: “United flight 354 diverted to Denver yesterday afternoon to address an issue with the slat on the wing of the aircraft.”

“The flight landed safely and we arranged for a different aircraft to take customers to their destination, which arrived in Boston last night.”

According to one Redditor, this isn’t the first time that passengers have been the first to notice the ‘delamination’ of an aircraft wing, with the NTSB reporting an almost identical situation in 2007.

View Comment (1)
  • I don’t know that the advice was quite reassuring…it’s a known issue that can cause control issues and non-emergency diversion is the common response. That, coupled with the fact that the plane actually did divert, indicates what the person witnessed out the window was in fact quite serious.

    I guess it depends on perspective though. It’s certainly reassuring compared to responses like “Don’t bother telling anyone. The situation is already past the point of rectification…just make your peace with your maker sooner rather than later…”lol

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