First it was the infamous “drag and drop” incident that quickly went viral and is about to cost United millions in legal settlement fees. Then it was a “United” scorpion falling from an overhead bin. Now, according to KHOU, a couple headed to Costa Rica for their wedding on Saturday afternoon got kicked off their United flight out of Houston.
The incident took place on United Airlines Flight 1737 which was headed from Houston (IAH) to Liberia, Costa Rica (LIR). The couple, along with their friends, were flying from Salt Lake City and had a layover at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
Michael Hohl and Amber Maxwell. (Photo: Courtesy of Michael Hohl)
Michael Hohl, the groom, said he and his fiancé, Amber Maxwell, were the last to board the plane.
According to Hohl, they noticed a man was spread across their row napping when they approached their seats, 24 B and C. Not wanting to wake the man, Hohl said they decided to sit a three rows up in seats 21 B and C. He said they didn’t think it would matter because the flight was half full with multiple empty rows.
“We thought not a big deal, it’s not like we are trying to jump up into a first-class seat,” said Hohl.“We were simply in an economy row a few rows above our economy seat.” In a Boeing 737-800 like the one the couple was on, United considers Row 21 “economy plus,” an upgrade.
After sitting, Hohl said a flight attendant approached and asked if they were in their ticketed seats. The couple explained they weren’t and asked if they could get an upgrade, but instead they were told they needed to return to their assigned seats.
That’s when things escalated: Hohl said after complying with the flight attendant’s demand, a U.S. Marshall came onto the plane and asked them to get off. The couple cooperated and got off the plane without incident, but they still don’t understand why.
“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 Airlines claims they actually tried to sit in an upgraded seat “repeatedly” and they “wouldn’t follow crew instructions.”
The airline provided this statement on Saturday:
“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.”
The bride and groom were rebooked for another flight the next morning, but Hohl said they won’t be flying United again and described the whole situation as “quite strange.”
“I think customer service and the airlines has gone real downhill,” said Hohl. “The way United Airlines handled this was really absurb.”
Despite their flight delay, their wedding is still planned for Thursday.
Meanwhile, despite repeated apologies and assurances it would change, United Airlines continues to make negative headline with business practices that leave much to be desired and which will surely cost the company an unknown number of lost clients.