Half a Story

Via JuliaM, this story doesn’t stack up:

An African woman and her children were kicked off a United Airlines flight after a fellow passenger complained that she had a “pungent” odour, according to a racial discrimination lawsuit filed against the company.

The incident involving the passenger, a white male, happened two years ago, when Queen Obioma, a Nigerian citizen, and her two children were boarding a flight from Houston to San Francisco. The family had flown from Lagos, Nigeria, and were on the second leg of a three-flight journey to Ontario, Canada.

Okay, let me start by saying the behaviour of Nigerians on flights can be absolutely abominable. Many take absolutely no consideration of other passengers whatsoever, barging, elbowing, and yelling as of they were in Lekki market. Worse is their sense of entitlement leading to them treat the crew like shit, shouting demands in their faces if their every whim is not immediately catered to. Now of course not all Nigerians behave this way, nor even most Nigerians, but a substantial minority of them do. I spoke to a few stewardesses on the various airlines and they all hated the Nigerian routes because of the behaviour of the passengers. So when I hear a Nigerian has had trouble on an airplane, my first reaction is not one of surprise.

Obioma saw that the other passenger had sat in her assigned seat in the business-class cabin, according to the lawsuit, which was filed Friday in federal court in Houston. The passenger refused to move, so a flight crew member, instead, asked Obioma to sit elsewhere in business class.

This strikes me as odd for two reasons. Firstly, whereas the cabin crew may occasionally ask you to move seats, being ordered to do so because someone else has nabbed your seat and refuses to move is unheard of. Secondly, wasn’t she flying with her kids? Where were they?

Later, before takeoff, Obioma went to use the bathroom. On her way back to her seat, the same passenger was standing in the aisle and blocking her from getting to her seat, the lawsuit says. She said “excuse me” three times, but was ignored. After several minutes, Obioma managed to squeeze her way to her seat.

Again, this doesn’t sound right. If someone is blocking your way back to the seat and refuses to move, chances are other passengers will get involved followed by the air crew. There’s an awful lot being left out of this story.

But just after she sat down, a crew member told Obioma to go outside the aircraft, where another employee told her that she would be removed from the flight. The lawsuit says the pilot had personally requested that she be removed because the male passenger, who was not identified, had complained that her smell was “pungent,” and he was not comfortable flying with her.

Whatever the reason for her being removed, it wasn’t because she smelled pungent.

“Ms Obioma watched her minor children marched out of the aircraft like criminals, confused and perplexed… She sobbed uncontrollably for a long time,” the complaint says, adding that the children, who were seated in the economy cabin, were humiliated.

Ah, so she was flying business and quarreling with other passengers while her kids sat in economy. This woman is clearly wealthy, at least by Nigerian standards, and unfortunately obtaining wealth and status in Nigeria can sometimes bring with it a sense of entitlement which they foolishly try to apply outside the country.

The lawsuit alleges that United Airlines discriminated against Obioma and her children during the incident on 4 March 4, 2016 at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, because they were black. It also accuses crew members of singling out Obioma, not because she was being disruptive, but because a white man – who refused to sit in his own assigned seat – did not want to share a plane with her.

I suspect this woman has more money than sense and some shyster lawyer has found a way to relieve her of it. I’m looking forward to hearing the airline’s side of the story.

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22 thoughts on “Half a Story

  1. This story has bollocks written over it in mile high letters but has a ‘race’ angle so you can see why the Independent went for it.

  2. Wealthy is when the parents, in their mid-20’s, are in first and three sprogs have to sit with the plebs in business class.

    Lagos-Houston-San Francisco-Ontario???

    OK, it’s possible as sometimes you get cheaper tickets on bizarre routings, but that would have to be worth quite a big discount, especially with sprogs in tow.

    I also didn’t know there is a business class on US domestic flights. IMX it’s economy or “first”.

  3. “Lagos-Houston-San Francisco-Ontario?”

    Yeah, odd that. Why would any Nigerian want to mess around with US boarder restrictions when they are heading to Canada? On top of which, why travel all the way west, just to have to return all that way east? And why is it Ontario, and not the actual city she was traveling to? Planes travel to airports, not to an entire province.

  4. Just to add, I doubtful there are any direct Lagos to Houston flights either.

  5. I agree, the story sounds extremely unlikely. I would be quite surprised that an airline crew in America was willing to remove a first class black woman and her kids because she hasn’t showered for a few days. And the route is crazy as well, who flies from Lagos to Toronto via San Francisco?

  6. I vote shyster lawyer happy to defraud either airline or its client.

    Not as bad as the scum at Leigh Day who have apparently been given leave to proceed with a bundle of false claims against the British Army.

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/05/14/british-soldiers-face-new-witch-hunt-law-firm-lodges-hundreds/

    In a better and brighter world everyone above PA level at Leigh Day would be disbarred and banged up for treason. Perhaps with some sort of ritual disembowellment for the partners.

  7. If it’s a shyster lawyer chancing their arm, they must be very sure that there’s no cellphone footage knocking around that might disprove her story…

  8. In my mind I can see a paralegal presenting a file of papers to a partner: “I’ve drafted particulars of claim”, he/she says. “Hmm, let’s see…yes….yes.. ‘Ms Obiama was very upset’. I think: ‘she sobbed uncontrollably for a long time’ sounds more effective.’ Don’t you?”

  9. If it’s a shyster lawyer chancing their arm, they must be very sure that there’s no cellphone footage knocking around that might disprove her story…

  10. The fact that United apparently is comfortable going to trial rather than settling out of court says a lot

  11. I think they probably were headed for Ontario, California, which the Independent reporterette has probably never heard of.

  12. The fact that United apparently is comfortable going to trial rather than settling out of court says a lot

    Oh I missed that, but yes.

  13. “…which the Independent reporterette has probably never heard of.”

    And, of course, neither has BiG. [Doffs cap]

    Still, why would you suffer an extra leg to your journey, rather than flying to LAX (must be several from Houston per day), which is a whole 50 miles away?

  14. My guess is it’s a shakedown, hoping the airline settles quietly without the OMG RACISM!!! Twitterstorm, regardless of evidence, but it seems they are willing to go the distance.

  15. In a better and brighter world everyone above PA level at Leigh Day would be disbarred and banged up for treason. Perhaps with some sort of ritual disembowellment for the partners.

    Yes.

  16. Hanging, drawing and quartering is the appropriate penalty for treason, I believe.

  17. FYI it’s best to fly into Ontario instead of LAX if you can manage. It’s damn near a 3rd world airport but (1) the flights are usually priced accordingly and (2) flying into LAX is one of Dante’s circles of hell.

  18. @Tolkein – They are lawyers. You just know for a fact that they’d hire another lawyer that would get hanging, drawing and quartering to run concurrently, not consecutively.

  19. MC
    “In a better and brighter world everyone above PA level at Leigh Day would be disbarred and banged up for treason. Perhaps with some sort of ritual disembowellment for the partners.”

    It is those whore crafted the laws the allow these scum to operate that should be disemboweled.

  20. “It is those whore crafted the laws”

    If that’s a typo, it is an apposite one.

  21. The first time I heard of Ontario Airport was when, in a supposedly real-time series of “24”, Jack was flitting backwards and forwards between LA and what I at first assumed was a very far-away Canadian province at an implausibly supersonic speed.
    Given that 24 sold worldwide, I was a bit surprised in retrospect that they didn’t clarify earlier for the majority of foreigners who would make the same understandable mistake.

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