Bumped United Passenger Makes Request to Congressional Ethics Committee After No Apology From Airline

January 9, 2018 Updated: January 9, 2018

A United passenger who claims her first class seat was given to Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee has taken the matter further after receiving no response from the airline over her formal complaint.

Jean-Marie Simon, 63, has asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to conduct an investigation into the congresswoman regarding Simon’s treatment on a flight from Houston to Washington D.C., according to a Tweet on Jan. 7.

Simon, an attorney and private school teacher, first detailed her grievance in a Facebook post on Dec. 20 where she claimed United gave preferential treatment to Jackson Lee by giving the Texas congresswoman 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 her first-class seat.

In response to Simon’s online complaint, Jackson Lee issued a statement on Dec. 22 suggesting that the complaint was due to racism.

Also in response, United Airlines said in a statement that Simon had canceled her own flight on the United mobile app, which she vehemently denies. The airline later told media outlets that it had apologized to Simon over the incident, however, the 63-year-old said they had only provided her with a $500 voucher on the day of the incident and asked a “low-level employee at a call center” to say sorry on the phone. The airline has not formally apologized.

Simon said on Dec. 27 via Twitter that she had posted a letter to the United customer care officer and chief legal counsel demanding a formal apology and that it had been received by the airline, which United had still not responded.

Many people online are showing their support for the Harvard attorney, urging her to take the matter further.

This is not the first time Jackson Lee has drawn unwanted attention for her conduct on an airplane. Daily Mail’s US Political Editor David Matosko said he saw the congresswoman throw “a hissy fit” two years ago on another flight because a steward checked her carry-on at the gate.


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