A couple headed to Costa Rica for their destination wedding was booted off of a United Airlines flight when they sat in empty seats after finding another passenger asleep in theirs.
The couple, Michael Hohl and his fiancé, Amber Maxwell, were the last to board their layover flight in Houston when they found another passenger lying asleep across their assigned seats in row 24.
Hohl told KHOU-TV that they decided to move up to empty seats in row 21. He said they didn’t think much of it as they didn’t want to wake the sleeping passenger and the flight was only half full.
“We thought, ‘Not a big deal, it’s not like we are trying to jump up into a first-class seat.’ We were simply in an economy row a few rows above our economy seat.”
As soon as they moved, a flight attendant approached them and asked if the duo was in their ticketed seats. After the attendant explained that United considers row 21 as “economy plus” seats, the couple proceeded to ask for an upgrade but was instructed to move back to their original seats.
The pair complied with the request but soon found themselves approached by a U.S. Marshal who boarded the plane and asked for their removal.
“They said that we were being disorderly and a hazard to the rest of the flight, to the safety of the other customers,” Hohl reported.
Due to the recent incident between United and Dr. David Dao, the couple immediately cooperated with the request.
In a statement, United Airlines said the couple tried to sit in the “economy plus” seats multiple times.
“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.”
The bride and groom spent Saturday night in Houston and were booked onto a flight the following morning. They will make it to their wedding Thursday, but Hohl said they will not be flying with United again and called the incident “quite strange.”
“I think customer service and the airlines has gone real [sic] downhill. The way United Airlines handled this was really absurd.”
Ironically, Hohl told KHOU-TV that once their original flight was up in the air, a flight attendant told passengers there were plenty of empty seats and they could move if they wanted.
See the report from KHOU-TV:
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