Flying during the holiday season is always stressful. From the crowds to delays, everyone is on edge in the friendly skies. However, one woman is demanding an apology after United Airlines allegedly canceled her first class seat — and she is pointing all the blame at Sheila Jackson Lee, the U.S. Representative for Texas’ 18th congressional district.
Jean-Marie Simon, 63, claims she used 140,000 miles on December 3 for first-class tickets from Washington D.C. to Guatemala and back to Houston. According to the Houston Chronicle, “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.” United informed her the ticket was canceled, which she denied canceling. The airline gave her an Economy Plus ticket and a $500 voucher. However when Jean-Marie boarded the plane, she flipped out when other passengers told her that Sheila Jackson Lee was in her first class seat. She assumed United gave Jackson Lee preferential treatment.
After a flight delay while everyone was boarded “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.” A flight attendant threatened to remove Jean-Marie from the plane if she continued to take photos. See the photo below:
Jean-Marie posted the entire ordeal on social media, which went viral. United released a statement, “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. 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.” Jean-Marie denies she canceled her flight.
After Shelia Jackson Lee was accused of “stealing” a first class seat, she released a statement as well, “I asked for nothing exceptional or out of the ordinary and received nothing exceptional or out of the ordinary. 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. 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 claimed Lee’s statement accused her of racism, saying on social media, “I had no idea who was in my seat when I complained at the gate that my seat had been given to someone else. There is no way you can see who is in a seat from inside the terminal.” Yes, but according to her own story, she didn’t complain until she found out who was in her seat.
Jean-Marie Simon is asking for an apology from United Airlines. We doubt that will happen anytime soon.
SOURCE: Houston Chronicle