HOUSTON (WFLA) – It’s been a rocky couple of weeks for United Airlines.
The carrier is facing a lawsuit after a doctor was dragged off a flight last week and this week, KHOU-TV has learned a bride and groom headed Costa Rica for their wedding were kicked off their flight out of Houston on Saturday.
The couple from Salt Lake City, identified as Michael Hohl and Amber Maxwell, told the local station they were the last to board their plane and simply moved into other economy-class seats when they noticed another passenger was spread across their row napping.
Not wanting to disturb the man, the couple says they moved to different seats and let him carry on sleeping.
They said the flight was half full with multiple empty rows, so they decided to sit three rows up, assuming they were in the clear.
“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.”
However, in the plane they had boarded, a Boeing 737-800, United considers those seats to be “economy plus,” an upgrade.
Hohl said he was approached by a flight attendant who asked if they were in the right seat.
According to KHOU-TV, the couple explained the situation and asked for an upgrade, but were told to go back to their seats.
Shortly after they complied with the flight attendant’s request, a U.S. Marshal approached the couple and told them to get off the plane.
They left the plane without incident and in a state of confusion.
“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 tells a different story, and provided the station with 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.
They were booked on another flight the following day, but Hohl tells KHOU-TV they won’t be flying United again.
“I think customer service and the airlines has gone real downhill,” said Hohl. “The way United Airlines handled this was really absurd.”
Their wedding is still planned for Thursday.