90-year-old vet bumped from flight to Pearl Harbor ceremony gets attention


A 90-year-old World War II veteran was bumped from a United Airlines flight while on his way to the 72nd anniversary commemoration of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Ewalt “Walt” Shatz, who was traveling alone on the direct flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu, was credited for shooting down a Japanese warplane in his first attempt manning a .50-caliber machine gun, according to Fox News. But on Wednesday he was booted from the flight to allow for extra fuel.

At that point, the best accommodation available was a non-direct American Airlines flight that left eight hours later and included a layover in Maui.

Making matters worse, Shatz suffers from macular degeneration, which limits his vision.

“They just left me kind of stranded,” Shatz told Fox News. “Here I’m 90 years old, and I don’t know — I really didn’t have anybody else I could call.”

Shatz was one of two passengers denied a seat aboard the Boeing 737.

“I thought that they just overbooked the deal and they were trying to get rid of a couple of customers and somebody had my seat,” Shatz told WOAI News 4, according to Fox. “And that’s what made me mad, because I paid for that seat. I paid for that seat, and somebody else is sitting in it. I was lost. I didn’t know what to do.”

Fox reported:

Shatz reportedly told two United desk agents — and a supervisor — he was a WWII vet invited to attend a remembrance ceremony at the USS Arizona memorial to mark the attack’s anniversary.

United, in a statement to Hawaii News Now, said, “Inclement weather in the path of United flight 1226 required the flight to carry additional fuel and, as a result, reduce the number of passengers on board by 41.

“United agents in Los Angeles re-booked those customers, including Mr. Shatz, on the best available alternate flights on United and other airlines. We look forward to speaking with Mr. Shatz and the other affected customers.”

Things happen — we all know that. But bumping a 90-year-old partially blind war hero? Who was the second booted passenger? An 87-year-old nun?

Shatz arrived in Honolulu in time for the ceremony. Word of his delayed trip preceded his arrival in Pearl Harbor, and he was treated to the welcome he deserved.

“Everybody wanted a picture with me, and they were making out like I was hero, but I’m not really,” Shatz told WOAI News 4, according to Fox(. “It was embarrassing in a way, but I liked it. It was nice.”

Watch the KGMB and KHNL Hawaii News Now report, and check out A cappella group’s amazing version of ‘Little Drummer Boy’ goes insanely viral.

Hawaii News Now – KGMB and KHNL

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About Michael Dorstewitz

Mike has been with BizPac Review almost from the beginning. Email Mike at michael@bizpacreview and follow him on Twitter at @MikeBPR.

  • emaleroland

    Shame on United Airlines. Kudos to everyone who mobilized to greet him and thank you for your service.

  • francoamerian

    God bless him. United Airlines really needs to send their people to sensitivity training classes.

  • RepublicAnne

    I wonder if any vacationing crew members were bumped?

  • Mamatex

    Wow, a happy ending for an inexcusable action on the part of United. Surely there were better options but once again, common sense was absent. Bless him along with all of our military members. You are all heroes in my eyes!

  • Sally Roach

    This really got my panties in a bunch. So glad it had a happy ending.

  • Robert

    Typical airline. Sticking it to people. This time sticking it to a heroic WW2 vet who was going to a national special holiday for Pearl Harbor. Getting to the point, why serve???? It seems that most people and the gov’t just walks over us vets with no accountability. Maybe we stay home next time there is a combat situation.

  • Douglas Hurst

    Typical of United. If every there was a company that needed to be featured on “Undercover Boss” to get itself sorted out, it’s United.