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United Airlines

Couple Accuses United of Removing Them From Flight

Couple Accuses United of Removing Them From Flight
Joe Cortez

Flyers claim they were given no reason, while United says they wanted a free upgrade.

A couple flying to their Costa Rica wedding is claiming that United Airlines removed them from their aircraft without explanation at Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), while the airline says that the honeymooners’ crime was trying to get a free seat upgrade. Houston CBS affiliate KHOU-TV reports the soon-to-be wed couple is accusing the carrier of removing them for no reason.

The pair allege that the incident took place on Saturday, April 15, 2017. Michael Hohl and Amber Maxwell were flying aboard United for their destination wedding as the last to board the aircraft. When they boarded, they found a man stretched out across their seats, asleep. Instead of waking the person, the two opted for open seats towards the front of the aircraft.

“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.”

However, the airline says the two were not seated in another economy row, but rather in their premium economy product, Economy Plus. The seats the couple took were in row 21, three rows up from their original seating assignment in economy and in the Economy Plus section.

During pre-departure checks, a flight attendant asked Hohl and Maxwell if those were their assigned seats. When they explained the situation, the attendant asked the two to return to their originally assigned seats. The couple claims to have complied, only to have a federal marshal board and request the two leave. The couple claim they were told that they were “being disorderly” and a “hazard” to the other passengers by the flight crew and marshal.

However, United says they were trying to get a free upgrade and actually refused to move. In a statement to KHOU, a spokesperson for the airline says that the couple attempted to sit in Economy Plus seats that they did not pay for.

“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 says. “We’ve been in touch with them and have rebooked them on flights tomorrow.”

The couple is sticking with their version of the story, telling the television station that they will never fly aboard United again. While the two were able to continue to Central America for their nuptials, they classified United’s approach as “really absurd.”

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (2)


  1. FlyingNone

    April 18, 2017 at 7:51 pm

    Did their “never flying United again” include their return trip from Costa Rica ? I doubt they booked themselves one way.

  2. Travel & Leisure

    April 20, 2017 at 4:39 am

    I responded on another site… book the seat ya wanna fly! Have to be very high status to get upgrade nowadays. My seat mate and I were silent nearly whole DFW-CHA trip, when, as we were landing, I said I’d hoped for an upgrade, but no-go, so I should have gone with my usual ‘buy the tix’ policy. He said he was second on the list and only one got. We had a good laugh when I said I was third!
    The other media site contained huge number of negative posts, so no sympathy for couple who thought glory should be theirs by posting it. Just wake up the sleeping pax, sit in original seats and ask about a new seat in the area bought, once flight is settled. If they got undeserved upgrade that others had to pay for, THAT would cause unrest, and not with the upgraded couple.

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