In what would amount to a display of preferential treatment, a woman claimed United Airlines gave her pre-purchased first class seat to U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.
Making matters worse, the airline allegedly threatening to remove the woman from a reassigned seat on the flight for complaining and snapping a photo of the Democratic lawmaker, who was nestled in what should have been her seat, according to the Houston Chronicle.
Jean-Marie Simon, a 63-year-old attorney and private school teacher, used 140,000 miles on Dec. 3 to purchase the first-class tickets to take her from Washington D.C. to Guatemala and back home, the newspaper reported.
But when boarding the final leg of the journey, Simon told The Chronicle she was told her seat, 1A, was taken. Simon said she was given a $500 voucher and another seat on the flight.
Simon goes into specific detail of Seat-gate in a Facebook post:
“It was just so completely humiliating,” Simon said of the whole experience.
United has a different version of events, claiming Simon had cancelled her flight.
“After thoroughly examining our electronic records, we found that upon receiving a notification that Flight 788 was delayed due to weather, the customer appears to have canceled her flight from Houston to Washington, D.C. within the United mobile app,” the airline said in a statement, according to The Chronicle.
“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.”
Simon denied that account, “It’s just impossible to suspend disbelief and swallow that story that I cancelled my flight.”
As for Jackson Lee, she effectively said she got nothing more than she deserved.
The Texas Democrat said in a statement, “I asked for nothing exceptional or out of the ordinary and received nothing exceptional or out of the ordinary.”
Oh, and she played the race card.
“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,” Jackson Lee said.
“This saddens me, especially at this time of year given all of the things we have to work on to help people. But in the spirit of this season and out of the sincerity of my heart, if it is perceived that I had anything to do with this, I am kind enough to simply say sorry.”
Simon said that when she first complained, she had no idea who was in her seat.
“There is no way you can see who is in a seat from inside the terminal,” she insisted.
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