He had to de-plane to make room for Higher Priority passenger
United Airlines customer Geoff Fearns felt like he was a higher priority passenger. He needed to return early to his Irvine, Calif. based investment firm, so he paid about $1,000 for a full-fare, first-class ticket to Los Angeles. He boarded the aircraft at Lihue Airport on the island of Kauai, took his seat and enjoyed a complimentary glass of orange juice while awaiting takeoff.
Then, as Fearns tells it, a United employee rushed onto the aircraft and informed him that he had to get off the plane.
“I asked why, they said the flight was overfull.” Fearns didn’t get off. He was already on the plane, already seated. He said that shouldn’t have to de-plane.
“That’s when they told me they needed the seat for somebody more important who came at the last minute,” Fearns said. “They said they have a priority list and this other person was higher on the list than me.”
Apparently United had some technical problems with the aircraft scheduled to make the flight. So, United changed out that plane with a slightly smaller one with fewer first-class seats.
Suddenly it had more first-class passengers than it had room for.
“I understand you might bump people because a flight is full,” Fearns said. “But they didn’t say anything at the gate. I was already in the seat. And now they were telling me I had no choice. They said they’d put me in cuffs if they had to.”
A United employee, responding to Fearns’ complaint that he shouldn’t have to miss the flight, compromised by downgrading him to economy class and placing him in the middle seat between a married couple who were in the midst of a nasty fight and refused to be seated next to each other.
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