A group of flight attendants who were fired for refusing to work a trans-Pacific flight have filed a complaint against United Airlines, saying they were acting out of legitimate security concerns.
The 13 former employees are seeking to regain their jobs with back pay and additional compensation for damages.
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The crew members said that before a July flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong, one of the pilots conducting a routine inspection saw and photographed the words "Bye Bye" and two faces scrawled in the oily coating near the tail of the Boeing 747. They said the pilot called for a maintenance supervisor to inspect the graffiti, which could only be drawn by someone with security clearance and a lift because it was 30 feet above the ground.
According to the complaint, the captain said he was comfortable flying but flight attendants wanted passengers removed and the plane searched for explosives. The flight was canceled after crew members ignored a supervisor's order to work.
United representatives did not have an immediate comment on the complaint, which was filed Tuesday with the U.S. Department of Labor.