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A United Airlines frequent flyer of Nigerian descent is suing the airline for removing her from her flight at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport.
Queen Obioma filed a federal discrimination suit in Texas on May 11, alleging that United Airlines racially discriminated against her and her children on March 4, 2016. According to Obioma’s suit, United staffers instructed her to step off the plane after another passenger complained that she had a “pungent” odor.
The flight, from Houston (IAH) to San Francisco (SFO), was the family’s second leg of a three-flight trip from Lagos, Nigeria, to Ontario, Canada, where Obioma’s children attended boarding school, according to the Houston Chronicle.
According to Obioma’s lawsuit, she found a white male passenger sitting in her assigned business-class seat. When both Obioma and a United flight attendant were unable to convince the man to return to his own seat, Obioma agreed to take his spot. But when Obioma went to the restroom before takeoff, the man blocked her from returning to her seat for several minutes, after which another United employee, identified as Russel H., instructed her to step off the plane.
After Obioma left the plane, she was later told by yet another United crew member that the pilot had requested she be removed from the flight, after the man who had taken her seat and blocked her from returning to her own had complained about her “pungent” odor and refused to fly with her.
Obioma requested that her children be brought off the flight to her as well, and the family made their connection to Canada on a later flight. Obioma seeks punitive damages and legal fees, stating that she was discriminated against because she is black, African and Nigerian.
A United Airlines spokesperson told Fox News that “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.” TPG has reached out to United as well for an update.
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