A week after United Airlines made headlines around the world for dragging a paid passenger kicking and screaming off of a flight, the airline continues to shoot itself in the foot. Houston’s KHOU 11 reports that on Saturday, a bride and groom were kicked off of a flight en route to Costa Rica for their wedding.
According to the report, Michael Hohl and his fiancé, Amber Maxwell, were coming from Salt Lake City and had a layover at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. The couple were the last to board the plane, but when they reached their seats (24 B and C), they claim to have found a man napping across the entire row. Rather than wake the man, Hohl says that he and Amber decided to grab two seats in row 21 instead, as the flight was nowhere near full and multiple rows on the plane were completely empty.
“We thought not a big deal, it’s not like we are trying to jump up into a first-class seat,” Hohl told KHOU regarding the incident. “We were simply in an economy row a few rows above our economy seat.”
It turns out the Hohl was mistaken — United considers row 21 on Boeing 737-800 planes to be “economy plus” seating. A flight attendant eventually made the rounds and asked to see the couple’s tickets, at which point they explained their situation and asked if they could get an upgrade. The flight attendant reportedly declined the offer and asked the two to return to their assigned seats.
Hohl says that they did as they were asked, but that a U.S. Marshal came on to the plane shortly after and told them that they would need to get off of the flight. Confused, they followed the Marshal’s orders.
“They said that we were being disorderly and a hazard to the rest of the flight, to the safety of the other customers,” said Hohl. United disagrees with this assessment, and provided the following statement:
We’re disappointed anytime a customer has an experience that doesn’t measure up to their expectations. These passengers repeatedly attempted to sit in upgraded seating which they did not purchase and they would not follow crew instructions to return to their assigned seats. We’ve been in touch with them and have rebooked them on flights tomorrow.
There’s clearly some he-said-she-said going on here, and we’ll likely never know which version of the story is closer to the truth, but following such an outrageous incident last week, even relatively small mishaps like these don’t look good for United. We’ll continue to keep an eye out for any further developments.