Video: Passenger Removed From Flight After Trying To Self Upgrade

Admittedly different cultures have varying levels of familiarity with the “norms” of flying. That’s why we see stories fairly often from China and India which many of us probably can’t relate to. For example, passengers will pop open the emergency exit if they feel like it’s taking too long to deplane, or if they just want some fresh air. Oops!

I’ve seen some unusual things on flights to/from China, and have even been on a flight out of China where cops had to be called so passengers could be removed. However, I’ve never seen anything quite like this, which happened on a United flight from Shanghai to Newark yesterday.

Here’s the description from the person who uploaded the video:

Man decided to “upgrade” himself from economy to first class. He got caught multiple times and refused to identify himself to the crew, at one point even walking down the aisles drinking champagne that he stole from first class. The crew asks him to leave the plane and he refuses. Finally, the Chinese authorities arrive to drag him off the plane. However, they claim they are not allowed to handcuff someone that is mentally unstable (???). Finally, with the help of some passengers and plastic zip-tie cuffs provided by the crew, the man is carried off the plane kicking and screaming the entire way.

And here’s the video:

Wow! I’ve seen a countless number of people try to self upgrade, though never as persistently as this guy. I’m not sure how he saw this ending…

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)


  1. The web link in your article says “stories fairly often from China and India”, yet the sub-story is from China. Why did you include India in the hyperlink? Just curious.

  2. Actually had something like this a few years ago when I was a First Officer. We were trying to get out of Santo Domingo in a hurry because our FA’s were in danger of going illegal. A couple (from New York ) sat in first and wouldn’t leave. They had several different stories from the “wife had upgraded at the gate” to “the husband is a NYC cop and deserves it.” The agents called security and with them arriving, it caused a huge commotion in coach (just got the other pax’s riled up.) With all of that mess, the FA’s were now illegal and we all got sent to a hotel for the night. The two folks who tried to self upgrade were put on the banned list at the company.

  3. In the olde days of Douglas DC-8 or DC-10, my uncle once ‘self-upgraded’ halfway across the Atlantic.
    He just crept in and sat down for a while.
    What a rascal he was,

  4. Yes in china laws you can’t hand cuff someone in airplane. Only after get off the airplane police can do it.they can you tape to tie him .. but not handcuff….

  5. Wow!!! All this trouble for a seat and champagne served on United? If it was on Emirates or Singapore it was probably worth the hassle but on United??? :(((

  6. Love the moment around 0:30 where one passenger politely puts the policeman’s hat back on his head. Very kind!

  7. @Santastico – Ha,ha I was just going to say the same! He should have at least picked an ME carrier! UA …really? There sure seems to be a lot of mental illness front and center these days…

  8. @Matt, 0:33 the guy who put the hat back is picking his nose, i hope that he did not do that before the loving act.

  9. Back in the “old days” with DC-8/10, even back in the 50s and 60s, even coach was as nice as first class today. There would be less reason to sneak… As for China well yea cultures are different but you would think even then people would understand what divisions meant. China, India, and many of these Asiatic countries still have extremely stratified societies so temptation to stray might be even less so than in Western countries. We live in a big world and with smart phones internet etc. every little “incident” gets recorded like it it was major news.

  10. Chinese news and taiwanese news revealed his identity. .his last name is Lu, and he is university professor from Southwestern university of finance and economical

  11. He is the Chinese equivalent of Elaine from Seinfeld being booted out after self-upgrading, peeling back the first class curtain and screaming to economy pax, “These people have COOKIES UP HERE!”

  12. He could have asked all the poor flyers of UA’s business class product if it was even worth flying on UA. For sure most would have said NO

  13. It’s not about bad manner or whatever. The guy in the video actually has mental disorder. Policeman in the video said they can’t handcuff people with mental illness. His name is Yong Eric Lu, associate professor of penn state university.

  14. What an interesting story! His name is Eric Lu, he is a professor from Penn State University. A professor from Penn State wants to self-upgrade! Amazing story! He was visiting a Chinese University!

  15. “the husband is a NYC cop and deserves it.”

    Wow, someone actually used that to try and score a self-upgrade?

  16. The posts erroneously indicating that the individual is an American professor from Penn State should be deleted immediately. They were posted in order to implicate someone who had nothing whatsoever to do with this story, so his name woould mistakenly be attached to it via Google searches.

    As was pointed out by another poster, the Chinese media have identified the culprit as an instructor at a university in China, not the United States.

  17. @Eric W.
    please see this:

    I doubt you can read Chinese but this crazy guy was yelling”You can’t do this to me I am American”. He is a green card holder and AP in PSU as mentioned in the original news. That Chinese university hired him as a visiting professor on August, 2015. And yes he was fired after this drama. Curious how penn state is gonna react to this.

  18. @Lucky

    Kind of prejudicial of you to mention India in your hyperlink and when caught by Rakesh, sheepishly claim that similar stories come to you from India too. Cared to share some links (for similar stories)?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *