Imagine trying to catch a plane home on the last leg of a long tiring journey. You get to the plane and you’re told that you’ve been bumped out of the first class seat that you’d worked hard to gift yourself with from your frequent flyer miles. Then once you’re on the plane, given a reassigned lesser seat, you see a congresswoman in your original seat.
That’s what happened to Jean-Marie Simon, a 63-year-old attorney and private school teacher from Washington, D.C. on a United flight. And the congresswoman was Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX).
Simon was flying back home from Guatemala. Her last leg of the trip was from Houston to D.C.
But that’s where the problem started.
United told her that according to their records her seat had been canceled. She, of course, argued that that was ridiculous, why would she cancel the last leg of a flight?
They reassigned her to an Economy Pluss seat and gave her a $500 credit. But once she was on the plane she says she was told by another passenger that she thought may have been a fellow congressman that the woman she’d been bumped for was Lee and that it had happened before.
She also had seen Lee board the flight with a flight attendant before all the other passengers.
Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) in seat 1A the one I paid for dearly, and the one United gave to her without my consent or knowledge! Fellow congressman on same flight said she does it repeatedly. @united pic.twitter.com/Q2c6u6B0Yp
— Jean-Marie Simon (@JeanMarieSimon1) December 23, 2017
Before taking off, Simon went to the front of the plane and took a picture of Lee in the first class seat and expressed her frustration with the flight attendant.
Then, according to Simon, the airline threatened to remove her from her reassigned seat on the flight for complaining and taking the picture of Lee.
When contacted, Lee claimed that she had done nothing wrong and accused Simon of being racist.
From Daily Caller:
“I asked for nothing exceptional or out of the ordinary and received nothing exceptional or out of the ordinary,” the congresswoman said. “Since this was not any fault of mine, the way the individual continued to act appeared to be, upon reflection, because I was an African American woman, seemingly an easy target along with the African American flight attendant who was very, very nice.”
Simon disputed Jackson Lee’s statement seemingly accusing her of racism, saying that when she began complaining she had no idea who was in her seat.
“I had no idea who was in my seat when I complained at the gate that my seat had been given to someone else,” she said. “There is no way you can see who is in a seat from inside the terminal.”
From Houston Chronicle:
A “resolution manager” called her Saturday morning and apologized at least a half-dozen times, she said.
She said she wants a formal, written apology from United.
“It’s just impossible to suspend disbelief and swallow that story that I cancelled my flight,” Simon said.
[Note: This post was written by Nick Arama]