A bride and groom from Utah claim they were unfairly kicked off their Saturday afternoon United Airlines from Houston to Costa Rica. However, the airline says they were repeatedly trying to move to upgraded seats.
Michael Hohl was boarding the plane with his fiancée, Amber, when he tells KHOU-TV that they noticed a passenger spread out across their seats, napping over their row. Hohl claims that they didn’t want to disturb the passenger so they decided to sit three rows up in an upgraded area within the economy seating.
“We thought not a big deal, it’s not like we are trying to jump up into a first-class seat,” Hohl told the news station. “We were simply in an economy row a few rows above our economy seat.”
Hohl said a flight attendant approached them and asked if they were in their ticketed seats. When the couple explained their rationale and asked if they could get an upgrade, they say they were told they needed to return to their assigned seats. The couple eventually got off the plane without incident, per the crew’s instruction, but they still don’t understand why they were booted, according to KHOU-TV.
“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, who noted the flight was only half-full. “I think customer service and the airlines has gone real downhill. The way United Airlines handled this was really absurb.”
United Airlines described the situation differently.
“We’re disappointed anytime a customer has an experience that doesn’t measure up to their expectations,” United said in a statement to PEOPLE. “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 this morning.”
Hohl told KUTV that United had rebooked them on a different flight but that they had made “inconsistent promises about hotels and transportation to hotels.” However, it is unclear what those inconsistencies actually were.
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Hohl told KHOU-TV that, despite their flight delays, the couple’s wedding will still go on as planned for Thursday.
United Airlines has faced a firestorm of negative reactions from passengers and the public after security officers forcibly removed passenger Dr. David Dao when he refused to give up his seat for United crew members on a flight from Chicago to Louisville last Saturday.