A representative for the airline said inclement weather Wednesday forced the air carrier to remove the passengers in favor of more fuel to meet safety regulations for the flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu, Hawaii News Now reported Friday.
But United came in for criticism when word got out that Ewalt Shatz, a Pearl Harbor survivor on his way to a Saturday remembrance ceremony, was one of the travelers who was inconvenienced.
"I can assure you that using your airline in my lifetime will never happen. You should be ashamed of how you treated that man," one woman wrote on the company's Facebook page.
Another man, who identified himself as a veteran who also said he won't fly with the airline again, posted, "You owe him and this country an apology."
Shatz was an 18-year-old sailor aboard the USS Patterson when Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan on Dec. 7, 1941. He shot down a Japanese plane while manning a 50-caliber machine gun for the first time, Hawaii News Now said.
Shatz, who has poor eyesight, said he hadn't heard from United since but doesn't intend to travel with them again.
"I was just lost I didn't know what to do which is an awful feeling," he said. "They just left me kind of stranded. Here I'm 90 years old, and I don't know -- I really didn't have anybody else I could call."
He was re-booked on an American Airlines flight that left 8 hours later with a layover on Maui.
"I'm happy now, all my troubles are over with I guess," Shatz said.