United Airlines has had the kind of month that could drive a public relations director to drink. First there was the “we should drag a guy off the plane to open up a seat for one of our employees” bit. The video of the bloodied passenger being yanked out of his seat is included in the Jimmy Kimmel video above.
As bad as that incident was, two more stories have hit the internets that have kept the spotlight on United’s customer service. First, a bride and groom, on the way to their wedding, claim that they were kicked off their flight to Costa Rica for changing seats.
The couple, along with their friends, were flying from Salt Lake City and had a layover at George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
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 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.
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.”
At least they got off the plane before a United flight attendant hit them in the back with a steel chair. They were booked on a later flight and made it to their wedding on time.
As if those stories aren’t bad enough, a woman alleges that United sat a drunk man next to her who sexually harassed her, as the flight crew continued to feed him more bourbon.
From the Huffington Post:
Jennifer Rafieyan says she and her 12-year-old daughter were awaiting takeoff on a United Airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey, to Phoenix last month when they watched a flight attendant seat a visibly drunk man in the empty aisle seat next to them.
The man was intoxicated enough that the attendant had to guide him by his hips, Rafieyan recalled, and two attendants warned her about him.
“[One attendant] made some comment to me like, ‘This is going to be an interesting flight,’ and looked at him,” Rafieyan, 47, said. “And then the other flight attendant came up and said, ‘Let me know if you need anything. I mean it’― and she looked at him.”
Over the course of the next hour, Rafieyan says the 64-year-old repeatedly groped her and sexually harassed her. He rubbed her legs, grabbed her knee, kissed her hands, put his head on her shoulder and snatched her pen and notepad to add “PASIONAT NITE XX” to the to-do list she was writing, she said.
“That really grossed me out,” Rafieyan said. “My daughter was right there.”
Rafieyan claims that after her daughter got up to complain about the man, the flight crew served him four more drinks. Normally I believe the solution to most problems is more liquor. This may be an exception to that rule. United responded to her complaint by sending her four $100 travel vouchers. I’m sure that will make it all better… or something.
If I didn’t know better, I’d swear United is trying to get its own reality TV show. Whatever they are paying the United PR department, it isn’t enough.