United takes more heat after spat between passenger, U.S. congresswoman | World Defense

United takes more heat after spat between passenger, U.S. congresswoman


Staff member
Nov 17, 2017
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United takes more heat after spat between passenger, U.S. congresswoman
By Sara Shayanian
Dec. 26, 2017


United Airlines was accused of preferential treatment last weekend by a woman who said her first-class seat was taken from her and given to U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. File photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo

(UPI) -- An apology from United Airlines and a $500 voucher might not be good enough for a woman who says she was bumped from her first-class seat so Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee could sit there.

Jean-Marie Simon, a 63-year old attorney and school teacher, was moved from her first-class seat to coach class over the weekend on United Flight 788 from Houston to Washington, D.C., to make room for the lawmaker.

Simon said she was told her first-class ticket was not in the system.

"It was just so completely humiliating," she said.

United denied accusations of preferential treatment and said its system showed that Simon canceled her flight.

"We found that upon receiving a notification that Flight 788 was delayed due to weather, the customer appears to have canceled her flight from Houston to Washington, D.C. within the United mobile app," the carrier said.

"As part of the normal pre-boarding process, gate agents began clearing standby and upgrade customers, including the first customer on the waitlist for an upgrade."

"It's just impossible to suspend disbelief and swallow that story that I cancelled my flight," Simon said.

The school teacher added that the airline itself did not apologize.

"United has NOT apologized," she tweeted late Monday.

Simon tweeted a picture of Lee, D-Texas, sitting in the seat she'd purchased and said another congressman on the flight said Lee often takes other passengers' seats.

Lee responded by saying the situation "saddens" her.

"Since this was not any fault of mine, the way the individual continued to act appeared to be, upon reflection, because I was an African American woman, seemingly an easy target along with the African American flight attendant who was very, very nice," the Texas Democrat said.

"This saddens me, especially at this time of year given all of the things we have to work on to help people. But in the spirit of this season and out of the sincerity of my heart, if it is perceived that I had anything to do with this, I am kind enough to simply say sorry."

Simon said she never saw who had taken her seat until she boarded the plane.

As part of the reconciliation, Simon was given a $500 voucher.

The ordeal is potentially another blemish for United, which dealt with another high-profile incident earlier this year -- when security officers forcibly removed a passenger from the plane to make room for a flight crew.