United Airlines’ Inadvertent 9/11 References


The advertisement for United Airlines reads “You’re going to like where we land.” Unfortunately, it was placed above the entrance to a subway stop at Cortlandt Street, in New York City — with Ground Zero as the backdrop. For those who need reminding, it was United Airlines Flight 175 that struck the south tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Truth be told, United may be significantly removed from the decisions that led to the placement of the advertisement at that precise location. The sign was approved by New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), but the MTA’s logo isn’t part of the message; United’s is. Enough New Yorkers managed to recognize the unfortunate placement that United and the MTA heard about it and the third-party vendor responsible for placing the ad at that location was contacted to take the ad down. That wasn’t the only 9/11-related “error” for which United earned attention last week.

United apologized Wednesday after it mistakenly applied the retired flight numbers 175 and 93 to future flights operated under a code-share agreement by Continental. United had taken those numbers off its lists after Flight 175 was lost in the south tower of the World Trade Center and Flight 93 crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, on September 11, 2001. Airline spokesman Rahsaan Johnson explained the matter saying, “We did not make a decision to use those flight numbers. The error was technical.” And it was immediately corrected by removing the numbers from the system. The numbers did not appear on departure/arrival monitors, at gates or on screens at airport check-in counters, but may have appeared on travel websites before being changed.