A woman complained on social media about United Airlines downgrading her fiance from business class to ‘coach’ so that a flight attendant could take a nap in his seat.
Together with her boyfriend, Danielle Schwab was flying from London Heathrow Airport (LHR) to Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD).
In a TikTok post uploaded on May 24, 2023, Schwab, under the username @watergirl8396, ranted about the couple’s poor experience with United Airlines.
According to Schwab, her fiance was “all of a sudden” relocated to coach (economic class) by the airline so that a member of the crew could take a nap in his seat.
“We had booked and paid for our seats ahead of time. This is not customer service,” Schwab said.
A gate agent entered the aircraft when Scwab and her fiancé were already on board and sitting in their United Business Class Polaris seats, according to Scwab.
The agent told them that they will need her fiance’s seat for a flight attendant.
Additionally, Schwab added that, contrary to what she said in the initial video, her fiance had been transferred to the premium economy rather than coach or economy.
Four seats in total had to be given up by United for the cabin staff. The other woman, whose seat was also given up to the crew, was reachable by Schwab’s father, who was traveling with them.
Schwab later learned that the other two passengers agreed to be removed and take the same flight the next day in exchange for rewards from United Airlines.
Did United Airlines really downgrade a passenger?
The short answer is yes. However, there is a reason for the downgrade.
United Airlines provided the following justification:
“The seats we normally reserve for crew members to take their required rest breaks weren’t working on this flight, so we, unfortunately, had to reassign two customers to Premium Plus rather than cancel the flight. We understand the customer’s frustration and are refunding the price difference for their seats and giving them each a $1,500 certificate for future travel.”
Schwab said that they received no reimbursement from the airline in her most recent statement. When the flight landed, she claims a United Airlines customer service representative greeted them at the airport, apologized, and urged them to provide comments using the airline’s app.
They were informed by the airline staff that a different department was in charge of compensation when they inquired about it.
“We understand that this is a first-world problem but this was horrible customer service that should have never happened,” Schwab said.