United Airlines isn’t quite out of the public relations weeds after last week’s debacle, but the airline takes another hit after news came out that they removed a couple heading to their own wedding for vague reasons. Michael Hohl and Amber Maxwell were set to marry on Thursday in Costa Rica, so they booked a flight there from Houston on Saturday. According to Hohl and Maxwell, they found a man asleep in their reserved seats, so they decided to use seats that were unoccupied, reasoning that the flight was half full and had many empty rows.
While the couple only moved ahead three rows, it appears that United put the line between basic economy and economy plus in that area. So, a flight attendant came and told them that they needed to return to their assigned seats since upgrades weren’t available. According to Hohl and Maxwell, they did take their assigned seats, but a U.S. Marshal came to remove them off the plane. This removal was without any force, but without further explanation provided by the Marshal.
United responded to this allegation, saying that Hohl and Maxwell “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.” However, United did say that they were rebooked for a flight the following day. The Transportation Security Administration also gave a statement confirming United’s claim that no air marshal or law enforcement was actually involved in the removal of the passengers, further casting doubt on Hohl and Maxwell’s story.
Hohl and Maxwell’s claims have slightly more credence in the court of public opinion because of the negative perception the airline has garnered following the released video of Dr. David Dao being dragged out of a United flight after being reassigned to a different flight. Dao is currently preparing a lawsuit, while United has vowed to not use law enforcement in removing passengers because of booking and ticket issues since that incident.