Airline Has ‘Not Apologized’ Says Passenger Who Lost Seat to Congresswoman

December 27, 2017 Updated: December 27, 2017

A passenger who says a Texan Congresswomen took her first class seat on a United Airlines’ flight has refuted claims by the airline that it has apologized.

Disgruntled passenger Jean-Marie Simon repudiated United Airlines’ comments to media on Monday Dec. 25. The airline apologized to her over how U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Houston Democrat, allegedly took her first class seat on a Dec. 18 flight, according to NY Daily News.

A United Airlines spokesperson told the newspaper that the airline apologized to Simon and gave her a $500 travel voucher. The spokesperson’s comments were subsequently picked up by other media.

But Simon disagreed.

“United has NOT apologized. Man at call center, answering my form complaint, said he was very sorry, but far from written apology United owes. And $500 voucher was issued at gate right after Untied cancelled my flight, not part of ‘apology package’,” Simon tweeted to the airline on Dec. 26.

Simon, a 63-year-old teacher from Washington, D.C., said she had been in contact with a media outlet about the coverage of the airline’s claims.

“AP/Houston bureau called: I asked them to correct their ‘United apology’ story: United has not apologized. If it has, where’s the letter? And the $500 voucher was given before I complained as ‘take the voucher and get on plane or find another flight or airline’,” she tweeted.

On Tuesday evening, Simon said she spoke with a reporter from NBC and again complained about having not yet received a formal apology in the mail from the airline.

Simon claims the airline gave preferential treatment to Jackson Lee by giving the Texas member of congress her first class seat while she was bumped back to Economy Plus.

She further claimed the airline threatened to throw her off the plane for making her objections known and for taking a photo of Jackson Lee sitting in the first-class seat.

In part of a detailed Facebook post about what occurred, she said the airline repeatedly lied to her over the incident.

“They put Jackson Lee on the plane and then tried to blame it on a late incoming flight, another airline, my cell phone,, Global Services, and on everybody but the United employee who deliberately erased my seat, my ticket, and my name from the system in order to accommodate a member of Congress who repeatedly bullies his/her way into favored status,” Simon wrote.

On Tuesday, Jackson Lee tweeted the airline’s statement over the incident.

“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,” she wrote.

The congresswoman also re-issued a statement via Twitter on Tuesday that was first posted on her Facebook page on Friday, in which she claims Simon’s reaction was apparently due to racism.

“I noted that this individual came toward me and took a picture. I heard later that she might have said ‘I know who she is.’ 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,” tweeted Jackson Lee.

Simon has refuted Jackson Lee’s suggestion her act was based on racism, saying she was making her case known even before she knew who was in the seat that she claimed was hers.

“I had no idea who was in my seat when I complained at the gate that my seat had been given to someone else,” Simon said, reported the Houston Chronicle. “There is no way you can see who is in a seat from inside the terminal.”


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