A Nigerian mother, along with her children, was kicked off a United Airlines flight in Houston, after a passenger repeatedly complained about a “pungent odor” seemingly coming from the woman. The airline now faces a federal discrimination lawsuit.
Queen Obioma, the aforementioned mother, reported the racist incident took place on March 16, 2016. She and her children were seen at George Bush Intercontinental Airport after completing their previous trip from Nigeria to Ontario.
According to the lawsuit, after arriving from Nigeria on March 4, 2016, Obioma and her children boarded a United Airlines flight to San Francisco. However, when she arrived at her seat, Obioma noticed it was already occupied by a white man. She politely asked the man to move from her designated seat but the man simply ignored.
Obioma then called a flight attendant who made the same request to the man, which he also refused. At that point, the flight attendant should have taken measures against the man since he was blocking another passenger’s seat. However, the crew member simply told Obioma to sit in another seat, to which the Nigerian woman agreed.
However, this was not the end.
As Obioma was putting her luggage in the overhead compartment, she noticed the man who was occupying her seat got up and headed towards the cockpit.
After a trip back from the restroom, she noticed the man was blocking the way to her seat. Obioma requested the gentleman to move, however the man again refused to do so. Obiama said she had to squeeze her way into her seat.
After settling down in her seat, a United Airlines staff member walked up to Obioma and said someone outside the aircraft needed to speak with her. Obioma followed him out and saw another employee waiting outside.
The employee informed Obioma that she would not be allowed to take this flight. He said that this was a direct request made by the pilot after the man sitting in Obiomas seat complained that he was not comfortable due to her “pungent odor.”
Confused, Obioma asked what the man meant by “pungent” to which she was simply told that she had a foul smell coming from her. She tried explaining to the employee that her children and their luggage were still on the plane and that they have a connecting flight to catch. However all attempts were futile and Obioma was left in tears as she watched her children and luggage being escorted off of the plane by the United Airlines employees.
Obioma’s lawsuit claims that she was discriminated against intentionally, and that this was nothing more than a hate crime due to her being of African descent. She said the airlines did nothing to protect her or her children’s rights.
The suit which was filed on Friday in Houston has yet to be answered. When asked about the lawsuit, United Airlines refused to comment.
"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 company spokeswoman told The Dallas Morning News in a written statement.
This isn’t the first time the airline’s crew has mistreated passengers. It once forced a passenger to sit on a urine-soaked seat. A 16-year-old girl also filed a complaint against it when she told a crew member about a man seated next to her who was groping her and the flight attendant did nothing.
Banner / Thumbnail : Reuters