Fact Check

Does United Airlines Have an Armed 'Seating and Apparel' Division?

A doctored photo mocked the airline's recent public relations disasters.

Published Apr 11, 2017

An image shows the heavily armed officers of United Airlines' Special Seating and Apparel Division.

United Airlines has more than once become the object of mass outrage in 2017. In March, the airline temporarily barred two women from boarding a flight because they were wearing leggings. Less than a month later, a viral video showed a man dragged from a United flight bleeding from the nose because the flight was overbooked.

In the aftermath, an image satirizing the company's customer service policies became popular on social media. The image purports to show United's "Special Seating & Apparel Division":

This image, of course, does not actually show the "Special Seating & Apparel Division" of United Airlines.

The man at the podium is actually Lake County Sheriff Peyton Grinnell, who delivered a warning to heroin dealers in Florida, flanked by masked police: 

Flanked by undercover deputies wearing masks and bulletproof vests, Lake County Sheriff Peyton Grinnell issued a stern warning to heroin dealers in a video posted on his agency’s website that has gone viral: we are coming for you. Run.

“Enjoy trying to sleep tonight wondering if tonight’s the night the SWAT team blows your front door off the hinges,” says Grinnell, who was elected in November.

The doctored image mocking United Airlines apparently used stills from the sheriff's video. The video itself has been the subject of controversy. The ACLU has expressed concern about police using SWAT teams inappropriately; however, some residents have appreciated Grinnell's acknowledgement of the devastating surge in heroin use in their county. 


Lazo, Luz.   "Two girls barred from United flight for wearing leggings."     Washington Post.   26 March 2017.

Aulbach, Lucas.   "Video shows man forcibly removed from United flight from Chicago to Louisville."     Courier-Journal.   10 April 2017.

Ruiter, Jason.   "Lake County Sheriff Peyton Grinnell warns heroin dealers in viral video."     Orlando Sentinel.   10 April 2017.

Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

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