Passenger Booted for Sheila Jackson Lee Disputes United Airlines Apologized


Sheila Jackson Lee / Getty Images
December 26, 2017

United Airlines said on Monday that it had apologized to the customer who was booted from her first-class seat for Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D., Texas), but the customer says she has received no apology.

Jean-Marie Simon was kicked out of her seat for Lee and moved into economy-plus section. United said that it had also given Simon a $500 flight voucher, but Simon says this never occurred.

Simon told the New York Post on Tuesday that she had never received the apology from the airline and that any voucher given to her happened on Dec. 18, when her ticket was cancelled.

"United has not apologized to me," Simon said. "A low ranking employee responding to an online customer complaint apologized on the phone, in his individual capacity. He also said he would send my complaint up the chain at United. To date, I have not heard from United."

"This was far from an apology," she said. "The gate agent who issued it told me to either ‘Take it and get on the plane or find another flight somewhere else.’"

Simon also said that they threatened to throw her off the flight after she took a picture of Lee sitting in her seat.

Lee claimed that Simon was being a racist for criticizing her and the flight attendant over the situation.

United Airlines spokesman Maddie King told the Washington Free Beacon the change was due to the customer canceling her flight with the United mobile app.

"We were concerned by this issue and took immediate steps to fully understand what happened," King said in a statement. "After thoroughly examining our electronic records, we found that upon receiving a notification that Flight 788 was delayed due to weather, the customer canceled her flight from Houston to Washington, D.C. within the United mobile app. As part of the normal pre-boarding process, gate agents began clearing standby and upgrade customers, including the first customer on the waitlist for an upgrade. We were able to provide this customer a seat on the same flight in economy plus.

UPDATE: 10:23 P.M.: This article was updated with a statement from United Airlines.