Are United Airlines Passengers Wearing Crash Helmets?

A photograph used to spur heckling of the embattled airline actually chronicles a training course hosted by a German airline.

  • Published 15 April 2017


Photograph captures United Airlines passengers wearing protective crash helmets.



The mockery of United Airlines over their treatment of passenger David Dao in April 2017 (forcibly dragging him off a flight to open a seat for a United employee) manifested itself in a humorous photograph circulated online, one supposedly showing United Airlines passengers seated in an airliner cabin wearing protective crash helmets as a spoof of the airline’s recent troubles:

The image depicts the helmeted passengers below the quippy caption, “On an actual @United flight today.” But another Twitter user pointed out that signage in the background of the image reflects a different carrier, Condor Airlines.

A Condor spokesperson, Susanne Rihm, told us via e-mail that the people captured in the picture are not actually passengers, but rather employees of another company taking part in a safety training course held in a mockup of an airliner cabin:

The interior shown in the picture is NOT a cabin of one of our aircraft. The picture has been taken in the course of a safety training in our safety training mockup at Condor headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany.

Rihm also included a picture of the actual cabin interior for Condor’s 94 aircraft:

United was subjected to heavy criticism after the footage of Dao’s being dragged off of a flight circulated online. The company admitted that the flight was not overbooked, contradicting earlier statements regarding Dao’s forced removal from a United Express carrier.

The union representing the company’s pilots released a statement blaming the incident on a “gross excessive force by Chicago Department of Aviation personnel.”
Since 1994
A Word to Our Loyal Readers

Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.

  • David Mikkelson
  • Doreen Marchionni
  • David Emery
  • Bond Huberman
  • Jordan Liles
  • Alex Kasprak
  • Dan Evon
  • Dan MacGuill
  • Bethania Palma
  • Liz Donaldson
  • Vinny Green
  • Ryan Miller
  • Chris Reilly
  • Chad Ort
  • Elyssa Young

Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.

We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.

Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.

Team Snopes