Thursday, 16 August, 2018

Woman kicked off flight sues United Airlines claiming racial discrimination

A Nigerian woman filed a civil rights lawsuit against United Airlines saying the airline discriminated against her because she is black Nigerian and African Woman kicked off flight sues United Airlines claiming racial discrimination
Russell Knight | 14 May, 2018, 01:06

A Nigerian mother-of-two, Queen Obioma, has sued United Airlines, claiming she and her two children were booted from its plane because a passenger complained she smelled "pungent".

The lawsuit alleges that United Airlines discriminated against Obioma and her children during the incident March 4, 2016, at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston because they were black.

The Nigerian family was flying from Nigeria to Canada in 2016 when they had to switch planes in Houston. After a flight attendant did not fix the conflict whilst the man proceeded to deny to go on to his own assigned seat, Obioma chose to take his own spot.

She said a United Airlines worker then removed her children from the plane. Obioma boarded the plane and found a white male passenger sitting in her assigned business class seat. When the passenger refused to give up the seat, Obioma was asked to sit elsewhere.

Before takeoff, Obioma said she went to the bathroom and when she tried to return to her seat the passenger who had earlier taken her seat blocked her path.

The suit which was filed on Friday in Houston has yet to be answered. "Her mind went blank and she was utterly befuddled".

When the woman asked what the crew member meant by "pungent", she was simply told that she had a foul smell coming from her. Due to the delay, Obioma and her kids missed previously scheduled appointments and extended her stay, incurring additional expenses.

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The man reportedly refused to move, the lawsuit states.

According to USA Today, American, Delta, Southwest and United all have similar provisions in their "contracts of carriage" that allow the airlines to deny boarding to passengers who: are barefoot or not properly clothed, have or cause a malodorous (foul-smelling) condition, appear to be intoxicated or under the influence of drugs or are unable to sit in a single seat with the seat belt properly fastened.

Obioma, a frequent flier member on the United's Star Alliances, said they were traveling from Houston to San Francisco where they were going to take a connecting flight to Canada.

Obioma's lawsuit claims that she was discriminated against intentionally, and that this was nothing more than a hate crime due to her being of African descent.

As soon as she sat down, Obioma said a United Airlines staff member approached her and said she needed to exit the aircraft to speak with someone outside.

"We have not yet been served on this specific lawsuit and thanks to this pending litigation involved within this thing, we're powerless to offer additional comment", spokesman for the airline stated, at a e-mailed statement.

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