Michael Hohl tells PEOPLE that he and his fiancée are determined to enjoy their wedding vacation despite being kicked off of a United Airlines flight

By Char Adams
April 17, 2017 04:51 PM
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A husband-to-be who claims he was unfairly kicked off of a United Airlines flight on Saturday says he and his bride aren’t letting the incident put a damper on their wedding celebrations.

“It’s not gonna slow us down,” Michael Hohl tells PEOPLE of himself and his fiancée Amber Maxwell. “It’s just a bump in the road.”

He adds: “We’re in Costa Rica now, we got here. We’re trying our best to find a different airline to fly home.”

Hohl tells PEOPLE that he and Maxwell, both of Park City, Utah, were boarding a plane out of Houston on Saturday, heading to the country for their wedding when they saw a man lying in their seats.

Michael Hohl (left) and Amber Maxwell
Michael Hohl

“We didn’t wanna bother the guy because there were so many empty seats. That’s when we sat in an empty row that was a few rows ahead of ours,” Hohl says, noting that the aircraft was “60 percent full at best.”

“They came and asked us to move, we kindly, politely moved. We moved back to our seats, we sat down, got our seatbelt on and we were taken off the plane.”

United Airlines acknowledged the incident in a statement to PEOPLE, with a spokesperson saying that the company is “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,” the statement read. “They were asked to leave the plane by our staff and complied.”

Hohl says that he was told to leave the plane and although Maxwell was not ordered to do so, she went with him because “she wasn’t gonna fly to Costa Rica for a wedding by herself.” The couple was not allowed back on the plane and their flight was rescheduled for the following morning, he says.

The airline’s statement noted that Hohl and Maxwell were ticketed in Economy but attempted to move up to Economy Plus and declined to pay the difference in fare.

Hohl tells PEOPLE that he and his fiancée told flight attendants that they didn’t know the seats were upgraded. He says that when he asked how to pay for the seats, he and Maxwell were told they couldn’t do so because they had already boarded the plane.

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“We did exactly as told. When they asked us to move, we moved without a flight,” he says, calling the situation “strange.” “We apologized that we were in another row of seats, but it was a nearly empty plane.”

Hohl says he and Maxwell are schedule to wed on Thursday.

The incident came less than a week after footage of David Dao being violently dragged from a United Airlines flight sparked national outrage and landed the company in very hot water.

Dao’s lawyer said the man suffered a “significant concussion,” a “serious broken nose,” two broken teeth and an “injury to sinuses.” Dao, through his attorneys, has since been granted a “bill of discovery” to preserve all surveillance videos, cockpit voice recordings, a full passenger list and any incident reports from the altercation.

In the wake of the controversy, United has changed is policy, stating that crew members will not be able to bump a passenger who is already seated in one of the airline’s planes, the company told PEOPLE in the statement.

Delta Air Lines and American Airlines have followed suit altering policies, with Delta confirming to PEOPLE that gate supervisors could offer passengers up to $9,950 to give up their seats on a flight.

Meanwhile, American Airlines has announced that officials “will not involuntarily remove a revenue passenger, who has already boarded, in order to give a seat to another passenger.”