Fuel gushed out of the wing of a United Airlines plane at Newark Airport as it was about to take off for Italy — terrifying passengers, who had to convince oblivious crew members about the emergency.
“I’m sitting looking out window at the wings, and all of a sudden fuel started shooting out of the wing really really hard,” said Rachel Brumfield, 28, a newlywed who was supposed to be jetting off to Venice on Flight 170 for a honeymoon with husband Mike.
“It was huge — it looked like a fire hose.”
And once the couple did get the staff to take the threat seriously and the flight to Venice was canceled, the lovebirds say the already embattled airline “wanted nothing to do” with the heroes who saved the day.
“I will never fly United again,” said Rachel, a professional pianist from Chicago who met Mike at the dueling piano bar where they both tinkle the ivories.
“Every person there was awful.”
The bride was already nervous about her first flight abroad and was just trying to focus on the Mediterranean cruise that awaited them on the other end as she stared out the window of their plane as it taxied on the tarmac.
That’s when they saw liquid suddenly start shooting out of the 767’s left wing. Mike sprinted through the plane to let the crew know what was going on, but they “yelled at him” to sit down, she said.
“He’s like, ‘But something’s not right.’ They said, ‘Is it an emergency?’ He said, ‘I don’t know,’ so they said, ‘Go sit down.’ They said, ‘Everything’s normal,’” Rachel said.
Then the crew members finally looked out the window for themselves — and rushed to the cockpit. The plane’s engine went off, and fire trucks came rushing toward the jet, she said.
After that, the staff had a change of heart, she said — the stewardesses who’d dismissed Mike came by to thank him, and the couple were invited into the cockpit, where they were given a glass of champagne and showed the pilots footage they’d taken of the fuel fountain.
The flyboys looked seriously shaken by the video, Rachel said.
“They just looked at the video and they all kind of looked at each other, like, ‘We’ve never seen anything like this,’” she said.
While there, she said, United staff said they’d take care of the couple, and asked them to “go easy” on the airline on social media.
But after that, United’s warmth cooled.
She said she was in tears back at the airport trying to get the airline to find another flight for them so they wouldn’t miss their cruise, which leaves Venice Thursday afternoon.
After finally securing a spot on a Wednesday night Delta flight, the airline gave them a food voucher but nowhere to sleep for the evening, she said.
The pair slept on the floor of the baggage claim until 7:30 a.m., when another passenger who did score a hotel voucher spotted them and offered the two heroes the room.
Another passenger is renting them a limo to JFK for their new flight.
“All these people kept thanking us,” she said.
The couple were surprised the airline didn’t do more to avoid bad press after footage of a Kentucky doctor being violently dragged off a United flight went viral earlier this year.
Rachel said the ordeal hasn’t helped her fear of flying — she’s just glad she’s not flying United this time.
“I don’t think it could get much worse, we’re really happy it’s with Delta,” she said.
United refused to address the couple’s account of the incident, offering only a general statement.
“While taxiing to the runway yesterday evening, United flight 170 traveling from Newark to Venice, Italy returned to the gate due to a fuel leak, and was later canceled. We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience. Our team helped provide customers with hotel accommodations for the night and are working to get them back on their way to Venice today,” said spokesman Jonathan Guerin.