Race-baiting Texas congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee got a premium first-class seat on United after the airline bumped a private school teacher who rightfully purchased the fare out of George Bush Intercontinental in Houston.
The 63-year-old teacher and attorney, Jean-Marie Simon, checked in for her flight home on December 18th to Washington D.C. with no problems. After about an hour delay, she began to board her confirmed flight but was stopped by a gate attendant who told her the ticket could no longer be found.
“A second United agent confirmed that I had no seat, not just the first class seat I had purchased, but no seat, period. I didn’t even have a reservation anymore,” Simon explained in a Facebook complaint against United.
Thirty minutes prior to departure, Simon noticed Rep. Jackson Lee got removed from the priority boarding line and escorted onto the flight:
The United attendant and Jackson Lee boarded the plane first, including before the pre-boarding of uniformed military, toddlers, people with disabilities and Global Services passengers, and even a group of fellow Texas congressmen whom Jackson Lee had been talking to before she was escorted onto the plane. Line 1 boarded, but when they scanned my ticket, my seat and my reservation had been removed from the system. The gate agent could not find my seat; she could not even find my ticket or my name. She tried for several minutes to pull up my reservation, but I had been wiped from the system.
United gate agents concluded Simon must have canceled her reservation despite standing in their presence with a boarding pass in hand, obtained three hours earlier in time to complete her last leg of travel home. She was told to go to another airline and purchase a ticket, “[M]eaning that I would lose my first class ticket and pay for a second one.”
“I said I wanted my seat, 1A, that I had paid for and selected in early December and one that the upgraded passenger in 1A was now freeloading, literally at my expense,” Simon told the gate agents not knowing that it was the Democratic congresswoman who was now “freeloading” her seat.
A defiant United offered Simon a $300 voucher and moved her to Economy Plus against her (paying) wishes. But as fate would have it, her new seat assignment put her next to another Texas congressman who was about to blow the whole thing wide open:
I was the last passenger on the plane. A Texas congressman, a nice guy, sat down next to me. He said was glad I had made it on the flight. I showed him my boarding pass with my seat, 1A, printed on it. He said, “You know what happened, right? Do you know who’s in your seat?” I said no. He told me that it was Jackson Lee, a fellow U.S. congresswoman who regularly does this, that this was the third time he personally had watched her bump a passenger. Then he asked me if I knew whom Jackson Lee represents in Congress: Bush International Airport in Houston. He apologized, saying, “Jackson Lee gives us all a bad name; it’s shameful.”
To make this traveling nightmare worse, United announced yet another delay due to a malfunctioning hydraulic pump (Merry Christmas!). However, Simon used this to her advantage to mosey up to First Class and snap a pic of Jackson Lee enjoying the luxury service and leg room she paid for:
Because Simon had taken the photo, flight attendants were alerted and warned her that she would be removed if she “created problems:”
I said I just wanted to get home. I said to [the flight attendant], to paraphrase, “Why should someone get a seat I paid for?” She responded that the person had Global Services status. In fact, Jackson Lee boarded even before Global Services was invited to board, not to mention that the first class seat was mine regardless of Jackson Lee’s priority status.
United maintains that Simon canceled her reservation through its mobile app after the first delay was announced, according to The Houston Chronicle. Simon denies doing so and sent a reporter a screenshot to prove it. United responded saying it doesn’t show up as canceled because she “ultimately took the flight.”
Jackson Lee had an entirely different take of the whole matter and you’ll never guess what she blamed the incident on. Okay, yes you will: racism. Here’s her statement:
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.
Oh, how gracious, congresswoman.
Simon remains “humiliated” by the entire situation and seeks a written apology from the airline:
United lied to me, repeatedly. They put Jackson Lee on the plane and then tried to blame it on a late incoming flight, another airline, my cell phone, united.com, Global Services, and on everybody but the United employee who deliberately erased my seat, my ticket, and my name from the system in order to accommodate a member of Congress who repeatedly bullies his/her way into favored status.
Ladies and gentleman, your pampered, privileged, race-baiting Democratic Party.