Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) defended herself once again after attorney and private teacher Jean-Marie Simon accused both the politician and United Airlines of bumping her from her first class seat in favor of Lee.
As Rare previously reported, Simon said that earlier in the month, she used 140,000 miles to pay for the first class ticket to travel to Guatemala and then back to Washington, D.C. When she got to the gate at George Bush Intercontinental Airport to complete the final part of her trip, she was told that her ticket was not in the system. Instead, the gate attendant asked if she canceled the flight.
“No,” she told the attendant. “I just want to go home.”
Simon said she was given a $500 voucher and asked to sit in Economy Plus after being told her first class seat was taken.
When she boarded the flight, she said she saw Jackson Lee sitting in the seat previously assigned to her.
On Tuesday, the congresswoman unleashed a series of tweets calling Simmons a “Grinch” and accusing her of targeting her because of race.
Jackson Lee repeated United’s assertion that Simon canceled her flight, something that Simon herself denied.
Simon provided the Houston Chronicle a screenshot of a cancellation she made in August when a scheduled visit to Houston was interrupted by Hurricane Harvey’s landfall. She said that was the only flight she canceled.
An official with United said that Simon’s reservation did not show as canceled in the system because she boarded the flight to D.C.
Jackson Lee continued with her assertion that Simon targeted her because the congresswoman was an African American woman. She accused Simon of seeing her as an “easy target.”
The statement concluded with a call to “accept our collective diversity.”
Shortly after the incident, Simon tweeted that a fellow congressman alleged this was not the first time Jackson Lee had taken over a passenger’s seat.
She said that after she posted about the incident on Facebook and Twitter, a “resolution manager” for the airline called her and apologized. She said that she wants a formal apology from the airline.
Simon’s experience only adds to the list of United’s public relations nightmares from this year.
Two security officials were fired in October after a video of a passenger being dragged from his seat to make room for United crew members went viral.
A mother also accused the airline of forcing her to wait two hours to deplane after her baby became overheated on a delayed flight.