On Saturday, a couple headed to their wedding in Costa Rica were removed from a United flight in the latest controversial incident involving the airline and its passengers.
The engaged couple, identified by the local news as Michael Hohl and Amber Maxwell, said they were unexpectedly removed from United Airlines Flight 1737 by air marshals after boarding their Costa Rica-bound flight in Houston.
United, however, presents a considerably different sequence of events.
The couple said they sat in an empty row of seats after finding another passenger asleep in the seats they were originally assigned, KHOU, a CBS affiliate in Houston, reported.
Further, Hohl and Maxwell said they returned to their seats after being instructed to do so by airline employees.
“We thought not a big deal, it’s not like we are trying to jump up into a first-class seat,” Hohl told KHOU. “We were simply in an economy row a few rows above our economy seat.”
But the airline says the seats the couple moved to were pricier premium-economy seats, and it said the couple “would not follow crew member instructions to return to their assigned seats.”
United described the couple as essentially trying to obtain an upgrade without paying the fare difference needed to officially upgrade their tickets.
A United representative also told Business Insider that no air marshals or law enforcement was involved in the incident. This was confirmed by a Transportation Security Administration official on Monday.
Business Insider has not been able to corroborate the couple’s claim that a passenger was sleeping in their seat during boarding.
The latest incident comes on the heels of a disastrous week for the Chicago-based airline after a series of public-relations gaffes in connection to a video showing a passenger’s forced removal from a flight in Chicago last weekend.
Here is United Airlines’ statement in its entirety:
“We’re disappointed anytime a customer has an experience that doesn’t measure up to their expectations. These passengers repeatedly attempted to sit in upgraded seating which they did not purchase and they would not follow crew instructions to return to their assigned seats. They were asked to leave the plane by our staff and complied. We offered them a discounted hotel rate for last evening and rebooked them on a flight (Sunday) morning.
“No air marshal or authorities were involved. The passengers followed our crews’ instruction to leave the plane.
“The passengers were ticketed in Economy and attempted to move up to Economy Plus. They were offered the opportunity to pay the difference in fare, they declined, and would not follow crew member instructions to return to their assigned seats.”