Lawsuit Alleges United Airlines Kicked Black Woman Off Flight After Man Complained of Pungent Odor

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
May 14, 2018US News
Lawsuit Alleges United Airlines Kicked Black Woman Off Flight After Man Complained of Pungent Odor
A United Airlines Boeing 737-900ER plane takes off from Los Angeles International airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California, March 28, 2018. (Reuters/Mike Blake/File Photo)

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A Nigerian woman alleges that she and her children were kicked off a United Airlines flight after a man complained about her “pungent” odor, in a federal discrimination lawsuit against the airline.

Queen Obioma, the Nigerian woman, said that the incident happened in March 2016 while she and her children were switching planes at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Texas, reported Dallas News. Obioma’s family was on its way to Ontario, Canada, from Nigeria. The flight in question was scheduled to land in San Francisco, where they would board another plane for Ontario.

The lawsuit says that Obioma and her family, all of whom are United Airlines frequent flier members, boarded the plane only to find a white male in the seat reserved for Obioma. She said that she asked him to move but he ignored her.

A flight attendant came over and asked the man to move but he refused, so the attendant asked Obioma to sit one seat over and she did so.

However, Obioma said that the trouble continued after she went to the restroom and returned to find the man standing in the aisle blocking access to her seat. The man didn’t move despite Obioma’s request to do so and she finally squeezed her way into the seat past him.

That’s when a United Airlines staff member came over and said that Obioma needed to exit the aircraft immediately. When she was led outside, another United Airlines employee said the pilot had personally requested that Obioma be ejected from the plane because the man told the pilot he wasn’t comfortable sitting next to her during the flight because she was “pungent.”

“At that point, Ms. Obioma was lost, confused and disoriented. Her mind went blank and she was utterly befuddled,” the lawsuit stated, reported the Chicago Tribune.

Obioma demanded to be let back on the plane because her children had important appointments before they started school in Canada but instead, employees removed her luggage and her children.

United Airlines declined to comment to the Houston Chronicle.

“We have not yet been served with this suit and due to the pending litigation involved in this matter, we’re unable to provide further comment,” a spokesman for the airline said in an emailed statement.

Obioma nor her attorney appears to have commented on the lawsuit outside of the filing.


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