IRVINE (CBSLA) — United Airlines’ public image troubles keep piling on as another passenger Tuesday complained that he was mistreated on a flight from Hawaii to Los Angeles International Airport.
This latest grievance came from the president of an Irvine financial investment firm, TriPacific Captial Advisors.
Geoff Fearns said the first-class ticket he held did not stop him from getting threatened and removed from the plane earlier this month.
“I think this is appalling that you’re throwing me off of my seat. She said if you don’t leave voluntarily, we’ll summon security and have you escorted off the plane,” Fearns recalled.
He bought a $1,000 ticket so he could get home a day sooner from Kauai. Despite arriving an hour early and boarding, a United employee suddenly demanded that he get off the plane because it was overbooked, according to Fearns.
“She said: ‘We have a priority list, and you’re at the bottom of it.’ The guy sitting next to me, who’s apparently a United frequent flyer, said: ‘Hey man! They get really nasty about this stuff. They’ll call the cops on you.’ And I’m like – for what? For sitting in my assigned seat?” Fearns questioned.
He said the employee got increasingly demanding with each refusal, and he eventually caved and was put in an economy middle seat and made it home.
But days later, Fearns saw a video showing passenger David Dao being dragged away from his seat on a flight from Chicago to Kentucky.
The footage made headlines and drew public outrage from around the world.
That’s when Fearns decided to share his story. “My wife joked about it. If I waited five more minutes, she said: ‘That would have been you on TV’,” he recalled.
The traveler sent a formal complaint to the airline’s CEO and received an email response from the airline’s customer care department.
“It’s not the way you wanted to travel and I regret we didn’t meet your expectations. Despite the negative experience, we hope to have your continued support,” the response said.
“Ludicrous! I wouldn’t fly United on a bet,” Fearns protested.
The response letter showed the airline did offer Fearns a $500 travel voucher and the difference in the cost between economy and first class.
He said he declined the offer and was considering taking legal action. “It will hopefully lead to some much-needed reforms, not just for guys flying first class, but for everybody,” Fearns added.
United Airlines has not responded to a request for comment on this incident.