United Airlines Flyer Rages After First-Class Seats Given to Crew Members 

Two United Airlines passengers are being compensated after a woman said that her fiancé was "bumped" to an economy seat so "a part of the crew could sit in first class instead."

The incident was the focus of a viral TikTok video shared by Danielle Schwab (@watergirl8296). In the clip, the woman, "who just got engaged," said she and her fiancé were on a flight from London's Heathrow Airport to Chicago when the fiancé was "booted" out of first class.

A United spokesperson told Newsweek: "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 customers' frustration and are refunding the price difference for their seats and giving them each a $1,500 certificate for future travel," the spokesperson said.

Seats in Premium Plus are "closer to the front of the aircraft and have additional legroom, elbow room and recline," according to the airline's website.

In a subsequent video shared by the poster, the woman said four passengers were "booted" from first class, including her fiancé.

According to her fiancé, "There was another person who got kicked back to coach and she received compensation."

Later, the couple were allegedly told, "There's nothing we could do," the woman said. They were directed to "submit a claim online" and "no one would talk to us," she explained in the subsequent video.

In March, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) received 15,545 complaints (22.3 complaints per 100,000 passengers) from the public via phone or email, according to the latest Air Travel Consumer Report by the Department of Transportation, released in May.

The report also said the TSA received 38 airline-related complaints in March about such matters as baggage requirements, lost baggage, policy/regulations and wheelchair assistance.

Dan Bubb, a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who is a historian and former airline pilot, told Newsweek in January that pilots and flight attendants have "a secret compartment in the top of the aircraft that is inaccessible and invisible to passengers" where they can retire.

Patrick Smith, an airline pilot and the author of Cockpit Confidential, previously told Newsweek that on aircraft that don't have these bunks a designated first- or business-class seat is used instead, often cordoned off with a curtain.

Two passengers looking at books on plane.
A stock image shows two plane passengers, with a flight attendant in the background. A woman says in a TikTok video that her fiancé was "booted out" of first class during a flight so that "a part of the crew could sit in first class instead." iStock / Getty Images Plus

The woman in the TikTok clip said: "We're in first class, we booked these seats fair and square.... All of a sudden, my fiancé got moved to coach."

She alleged that the flight staff "bumped" him to the economy-class seat because they wanted "a part of the crew to sit in first class instead."

She continued: "I understand that the crew works really hard. However, we booked these seats ahead of time. This is not fair...this is not customer service...this is ridiculous."

In the subsequent video shared by the poster, the woman said she and her fiancé, Mikey, were told that flight attendants "take turns taking naps on the back of the plane" and "there's usually bunks or seats that go out into a bed.... Four seats need to open up."

She continued: "I guess what happened [on this flight] was that wasn't an option...so what they did instead was they booted four people out of first class, including Mikey."

According to the woman, the flight attendants said "that's not supposed to happen" and it isn't "common practice."

She added, "What you're supposed to do is put the plane out of service if you don't have enough seats."

Several users on TikTok were sympathetic toward the poster.

User @bisouhes said, "You paid for first class! Get a refund," while user6152409168575 said, "A flight attendant should never get first priority over a paying Customer."

Shannon Cooney wrote: "Get refunded the entire ticket..."

ExecuteOrder69 said: "Coach is just fine for the rest of us plebs, so it's fine enough for them too."

User Alli83 wrote: "Everyone else sleeps just fine in the main cabin, why can't the crew?"

Newsweek has reached out to the original poster via TikTok for comment. This video has not been independently verified.

Do you have a similar to share? Send it to life@newsweek.com with some details and your story could be featured in Newsweek.

Editor's pick

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts