Engaged couple on way to wedding removed from United Airlines flight
HOUSTON, Texas – A couple headed to their wedding in Costa Rica said they were kicked off a United Airlines flight over the weekend.
Michael Hohl and his fiancé, Amber Maxwell, said the incident took place after a layover at George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Hohl said they were the last to board the plane and saw a man spread across their row while taking a nap, reports KHOU.
The couple didn’t want to bother him, so they sat a few rows up. They didn’t think it would be a problem because the flight was only half-full and there were several empty seats.
However, the seats they’d chosen were part of United’s “economy plus” section. When a flight attendant, approached them, the couple tried to explain their situation and asked if they could pay for an upgrade.
They were told to return to their seats; the couple said they complied with the order. Soon after, a U.S. marshal arrived and told them to leave. Hohl and Maxwell got off the plane but said they didn’t understand why they were taken off the flight.
“They said that we were being disorderly and a hazard to the rest of the flight, to the safety of the other customers,” Hohl told KHOU.
In a statement, United Airlines said the couple tried to sit in an upgraded seat “repeatedly” and wouldn’t follow instructions:
“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.”
Hohl described the situation as “quite strange” and said he wouldn’t fly United anymore. Their wedding was still scheduled for Thursday.
“I think customer service and the airlines has gone real downhill,” said Hohl. “The way United Airlines handled this was really absurd.”
United has been under intense scrutiny over the last week after an incident recorded on video showed a man being dragged off a plane at O’Hare International Airport. The man suffered a broken nose and a concussion during the encounter. He’d refused to get off the plane so a crew member could have his seat.
United announced a policy change after the video went viral requiring crew to check in at least 60 minutes before a flight. The airline said the policy will make sure crew members are seated before the plane fills up.