On Saturday, a couple headed to their wedding in Costa Rica was removed from a United flight in the latest controversial incident involving the airline and its passengers.
The engaged couple, identified by local news as Michael Hohl and Amber Maxwell, alleged that they were unexpectedly removed from United Airlines Flight 1737 by air marshals after boarding their Costa Rica-bound flight in Houston.
However, United presents a considerably different sequence of events.
The couple claims they sat in an empty row of seats after finding another passenger asleep in the seats they were originally assigned, KHOU, a CBS affiliate in Houston, reported.
Further, Hohl and Maxwell say they returned to their seats after being instructed to do so by airline employees.
“We thought not a big deal, it’s not like we are trying to jump up into a first-class seat,” Hohl told KHOU. “We were simply in an economy row a few rows above our economy seat.”
The airline claims the couple did not sit in the economy class seats for which they were ticketed. Instead, they chose to sit in pricier premium economy seats and “would not follow crew member instructions to return to their assigned seats.”
According to United, the couple attempted to “upgrade” repeatedly but declined to pay the fare difference needed to officially upgrade their tickets.
In addition, a United representative told Business Insider that no air marshals or law enforcement were involved in the incident. This was confirmed by a Transportation Security Administration official on Monday.
Business Insider has not been able to corroborate the couple’s claims that a passenger was sleeping in their seat during boarding.
The latest incident comes on the heels of a disastrous week for the Chicago-based airline after a disturbing video surfaced of a passenger forcibly removed from a flight in Chicago followed by several major public relations gaffes.
Here is United Airlines’ statement in its entirety:
“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. They were asked to leave the plane by our staff and complied. We offered them a discounted hotel rate for last evening and rebooked them on a flight (Sunday) morning.
No air marshal or authorities were involved. The passengers followed our crews’ instruction to leave the plane.
The passengers were ticketed in Economy and attempted to move up to Economy Plus. They were offered the opportunity to pay the difference in fare, they declined, and would not follow crew member instructions to return to their assigned seats.”
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