Did United Airlines really apologize, and did they do enough to compensate the first-class customer they bumped to the back of the plane? To add insult to injury, the treatment first class passenger Jean-Marie Simon claims she received by the United gate agent was completely disrespectful and inappropriate. And is it okay for a sitting US Congresswoman to insinuate that a passenger is a racist because she was angry for being treated horribly by the airlines after she was bumped from her seat? Is it really racist to complain about an airline that gave up your first class seat to a US Congressman who is supposed to be a public servant?
Jean-Marie Simon was a passenger on a flight from Houston to Washington D.C. and has accused United Airlines of giving her first-class seat to U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. D-Houston. The flight attendant threatened to remove her from the plane for complaining and snapping a photo of the Houston congresswoman:
Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) in seat 1A the one I paid for dearly, and the one United gave to her without my consent or knowledge! Fellow congressman on same flight said she does it repeatedly. @united pic.twitter.com/Q2c6u6B0Yp
— Jean-Marie Simon (@JeanMarieSimon1) December 23, 2017
A mechanical problem with the plane delayed take-off and after about 50 minutes, she said, passengers were invited to consult with a gate agent about alternative flights.
Simon said she went to the front and snapped a photo of Jackson Lee and told a flight attendant that she knew why she’d been bumped.
In her statement, Jackson Lee said she overheard Simon speaking with an African-American flight attendant and saw her snap the photo.
JACKSON LEE PULLS 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, seemingly an easy target along with the African American flight attendant who was very, very nice,” Jackson Lee said in the statement. “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 Jackson Lee’s statement accused her of racism, adding: “I had no idea who was in my seat when I complained at the gate that my seat had been given to someone else,” she said. “There is no way you can see who is in a seat from inside the terminal.”
About five minutes after Simon took the photo on the plane, Simon said, another flight attendant sat next her and asked if she “was going to be a problem.”
Simon said she replied that she just wanted to go home.
IS THE $500 VOUCHER EVIDENCE OF WRONGDOING BY THE AIRLINE? WHAT HAPPENED WHEN SIMON ARRIVED AT THE GATE:
“It was just so completely humiliating,” said Jean-Marie Simon, a 63-year-old attorney and private school teacher who 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.
When Simon asked for the same free meal/beverage privileges that she would have received in first class in addition to her lousy $500 voucher, she claims the gate agent mocked her, saying: “And I want a Mercedes Benz, but I’m not going to get it.”
Gate agent wanted originally to give me $300. I've seen people get twice that for voluntarily giving up seat on overbooked flights. When I asked for free meal/bev., gate agent said, "And I want a Mercedes Benz, but I'm not going to get it." https://t.co/cYPg5m9WBT
— Jean-Marie Simon (@JeanMarieSimon1) December 24, 2017
When it came time to board the last leg of her flight home from George Bush Intercontinental Airport on Dec. 18, after a roughly hour-long weather delay, Simon said the gate attendant scanned her paper ticket and told her it was not in the system.
Did you cancel your flight?, the attendant asked.
“No,” she said she replied. “I just want to go home.”
Her seat, 1A, was taken, she was told. Simon was given a $500 voucher and reseated in row 11, Economy Plus.
Simon later learned that Jackson Lee was in her pre-purchased seat and has alleged that the congresswoman received preferential treatment, which United denies.
This law professor suggests that the House Ethics Committee should investigate if Texas Democrat Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee pressured the airlines to get her first class seat.
The questions for House Ethics Committee should be (1) what pressure might have brought by @JacksonLeeTX18 to get 1st class seat and (2) what @United did to accommodate her. Better put @United under oath; claims that @JeanMarieSimon1 canceled own reservation unbelievable. https://t.co/pdXoRBG11A
— Kenneth Anderson (@kennethanderson) December 24, 2017
According to several major news sources who are using an AP source, United Airlines apologized for their “mistake”. Simon has called them all out, demanding that they correct their story: “United has NOT apologized to me.”
United has NOT apologized to me. On Dec. 23, a low level employee at call center said he was sorry on phone. Voucher I received was United's idea of compensation for cancelling my flight and given it to Ms. Jackson Lee. Please correct your story. @sfchronicle @united @AP
— Jean-Marie Simon (@JeanMarieSimon1) December 26, 2017
Simon is demanding that these sources correct their story to reflect that United Airlines did not apologize to her:
SFC + NYP articles claim "apology" from United and $500 as apology wrong. United phone agent apologized, no apology from corporate United. $500 voucher was from exasperated gate agent who originally offered $300 and gave me ultimatum to take the $500 or have plane leave w/o me.
— Jean-Marie Simon (@JeanMarieSimon1) December 26, 2017