United, it seems, has an alternative definition of customer service. Following the widely publicized video of a man being dragged off a flight on April 10, United has found itself with another problem. A couple was flying from Houston, TX, to their wedding in Costa Rica but was removed from United Airlines Flight 1737. The reason? They moved seats to accommodate another customer who was asleep in their assigned row.
Michael Hohl and Amber Maxwell, the groom and bride, explained the April 15 incident to local news channel KHOU-TV. When the couple boarded the flight and found their seats, they encountered another passenger sleeping across the row. Since the plane was fairly empty, Hohl and Maxwell decided to leave the man sleeping and move seats.
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"We thought, 'Not a big deal, it's not like we are trying to jump up into a first-class seat,'" Hohl said to KHOU-TV. "We were simply in an economy row a few rows above our economy seat."
However, they had inadvertently moved to an Economy Plus row, which is technically an upgrade. After an air attendant approached them, Hohl and Maxwell said they were willing to pay for an upgrade, but they ended up returning to their original assigned seats.
Despite complying with the attendant's request, Hohl and Maxwell were removed by an US Air Marshall minutes after they returned to their seats. According to the airline, Hohl and Maxwell were being disruptive, though the couple maintains they were not.
"They said that we were being disorderly and a hazard to the rest of the flight, to the safety of the other customers," Hohl recounted.
United crew members on board had a different story: according to their report, the couple refused to follow instructions repeatedly. "These passengers repeatedly attempted to sit in upgraded seating which they did not purchase," a statement from United read. "They would not follow crew instructions to return to their assigned seats."
While United did amend its policy to prohibit crew members from displacing customers who are already seated on a flight, the change did not affect the bride and groom.
Hohl and Maxwell were eventually rebooked on a flight for Sunday, the next morning, though they told KHOU-TV that they do not plan on flying United again.