United Airlines just can’t seem to fly under the radar.
A Utah man and his fiancée say a U.S. Marshal booted them Saturday from a Houston flight en route to their Costa Rica wedding after they changed seats without permission — the latest in a string of negative headlines for the bedeviled company.
Michael Hohl and Amber Maxwell — whose destination wedding is still slated for Thursday — boarded flight no. 1737 along with friends to find a napping man sprawled across their assigned seats, 24B and 24C, they told local TV affiliate KHOU.
They relocated to empty seats three rows up, 21B and 21C, with Hohl telling the outlet they were “simply in an economy row a few rows above our economy seat” on the apparently half-full flight.
Hohl claims that after a flight attendant told them to return to their assigned seats, the couple did — only to be told to leave by a marshal who boarded the plane. The soon-to-be bride and groom agreed to deplane without incident, according to the report.
“They said that we were being disorderly and a hazard to the rest of the flight, to the safety of the other customers,” Hohl said.
United offered a slightly different account in a statement obtained Saturday by KHOU-TV — adding the company was “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,” the airline said. “We’ve been in touch with them and have rebooked them on flights tomorrow.”
The couple’s predicament came a day after United announced — in the wake of a Kentucky doctor being bloodied and forcibly ejected from a Chicago flight last Sunday to make room for a crew member — that it would require staff to check in 60 minutes before take-off time.
“This ensures situations like flight 3411 never happen again,” a spokesperson told CNN in a statement. “This is one of our initial steps in a review of our policies in order to deliver the best customer experience.”
The doctor in Sunday’s incident, 69-year-old David Dao, was one of four passengers randomly selected for removal to accommodate United employees who needed to fly to Louisville for another flight.
After Dao refused a travel voucher incentive, citing his need to see patients in the morning, Chicago aviation officers yanked him from his seat and dragged him down the aisle as stricken passengers captured video that later went viral.
Dao suffered a broken nose, missing teeth, sinus injury and “significant” concussion, his attorney Thomas Demetrio said in a press conference Thursday. He has filed suit against United and the city of Chicago in Cook County Circuit Court, according to online records.
United CEO Oscar Munoz — who’d weathered negative press two weeks earlier after two teen girls were kicked off a flight for wearing leggings — has resisted calls for his resignation.
He apologized profusely to Dao during a Wednesday “Good Morning America” interview, adding the airline would no longer let cops remove paying customers from flights.
“This could never, would never happen again on a United Airlines flight,” Munoz said. “We are not going to put a law enforcement official to take them off the aircraft. To remove a booked, paid, (seated) passenger — we can’t do that.”
Man, fiancée kicked off United flight en route to their wedding – New York Daily News