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.