A bride and groom scheduled to fly to Costa Rica on Saturday for their wedding were booted off a United Airlines flight after sitting in the wrong row.
Michael Hohl and Amber Maxwell of Park City, Utah, had flown to Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport from Salt Lake City. Hohl told KHOU-TV that the two were the very last passengers to board the Boeing 737, and upon arriving to their assigned seats, 24B and 24C, they came upon a man who was sleeping in their row.
Not wanting to wake the sleeping passenger and noticing the plane appeared to be half-empty, the couple decided to move a few rows up instead.
"We thought not a big deal, it’s not like we are trying to jump up into a first-class seat," Hohl said. "We were simply in an economy row a few rows above our economy seat."
According to Hohl, a flight attendant approached them and asked if they had tickets for the seats, which turned out to be Economy Plus seats, a slight upgrade from standard economy seating. Hohl said he and Maxwell asked if they could pay for the upgraded seats in order to stay there, but were told no. They returned to their assigned seats.
A few moments later, Hohl said he and his fiancée were approached by a U.S. air marshal, who demanded that they leave the plane. In light of the recent incident when Dr. David Dao was dragged off a United flight after refusing to leave, the couple complied.
"They said that we were being disorderly and a hazard to the rest of the flight, to the safety of the other customers," Hohl claimed.
He said the airline rebooked the couple for the next morning, but they decided to use a different airline to fly.
"I think customer service and the airlines has gone real downhill," Hohl said. "The way United Airlines handled this was really absurd."
United Airlines said in a statement that the couple repeatedly attempted to sit in the upgraded seating after being told to return to their original seats.
"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," United Airlines said.
The couple’s wedding is still planned for Thursday in Costa Rica.