United Airlines is in the news again after a couple on the way to their wedding reportedly were removed from one of its flights for being “disorderly,” even though they claim they did nothing wrong.
Michael Hohl and his fiancé Amber Maxwell were kicked off United Airlines Flight 1737 from Houston to Liberia, Costa Rica, Saturday after a flight attendant noticed they weren’t in their assigned seats, KHOU-TV reports, via USA TODAY. The two were sitting in Row 21, three rows in front of where they were supposed to be, as a man was laying in their row taking a nap.
Hohl reportedly said they thought it wouldn’t be an issue give that the plane was half empty and they didn’t move up to first class. But United still considers Row 21 an upgrade to “economy plus,” so a flight attendant asked them to return to their seats.
Shortly after doing so, however, a U.S. Marshall approached the couple and asked them to get off the plane. Hohl and Maxwell complied without causing a scene, even though they didn’t understand what they’d done wrong.
“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-TV.
The incident came less than a week after a passenger forcibly was removed from a United flight in Chicago, sparking public outrage and causing the company’s stock to take a massive hit. As was the case in the aftermath of that public relations nightmare, United’s story of what happened didn’t align with the passengers’.
“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,” United said, according to KHOU-TV. “We’ve been in touch with them and have rebooked them on flights tomorrow.”
United has to seriously rethink its crisis communications policy if it hopes to earn back customers’ trust — or at the very least, stop trying to paint their customers as the villains in every situation.
Thumbnail photo via United Airlines