In yet another incident that is bound to bring negative publicity to United Airlines, a Nigerian woman is suing the company for reportedly kicking her and her two children off a flight in a federal discrimination lawsuit. The reason? A fellow passenger claimed that she had “pungent” body odor, and he was uncomfortable flying with her. Worst of all, the pilot and attendants allowed the complaining passenger to call the shots and effectively forced her and her two kids off the plane. The lawsuit says that it was an intentional act of discrimination, based on her race and that they were denied equal rights by United Airlines.
The Nigerian woman, named Queen Obioma, was on her way with her two children to Ontario, Canada, from Nigeria. Obioma was dropping her kids off at a Canadian school. The incident occurred as she attempted to fly from George Bush Intercontinental Airport to San Francisco.
When Obioma first boarded the plane on March 3, 2016, she found a passenger already in her seat. When she complained, the attendant suggested Obioma sit in a different seat rather than forcing the passenger to move. The woman said she saw the passenger walk to the cockpit. She then alleges that when she went to the bathroom and tried to return to her seat, the passenger who had refused to move from her seat blocked her in the aisle, and ignored her as she said “excuse me” three times, according to the Chicago Tribune.
From there, it was all downhill. A flight attendant asked Obioma to step outside the plane and speak with someone. When she followed them out, she was told that the pilot wanted her off the plane because a passenger complained that she was “pungent.” When Obioma found out that the passenger was referring to her “smell,” she tried to reason with the employees and explained to them the reason for the trip, detailed Dallas News. But her efforts to talk sense with the employees were in vain.
Obioma and her children were ultimately taken off the plane and were left feeling confused and humiliated. The lawsuit details that “Ms. Obioma watched her minor children marched out of the aircraft like criminals, confused and perplexed…She sobbed uncontrollably for a long time.” The family eventually had to board another plane five hours later and missed their appointments at their new school.
In past months, United Airlines has been plagued with a series of bad publicity. A puppy died on a flight in March when an attendant forced the passenger to place it in the overhead compartment. Then in April, David Dao, a passenger, was violently escorted off a flight, which was captured on video and spread like wildfire on social media.