Danielle Schwab, who goes by the username @watergirl8296 on TikTok, made the claim in a video posted to the app on Tuesday. In the clip, which was filmed from her seat on the plane, Schwab said she and her husband were travelling from London’s Heathrow airport to Chicago when he was “bumped” from his seat.
“Okay so, I’m recording this right now because we are on United Airlines going from Heathrow to Chicago and we booked these seats, we’re in first class, we booked these seats fair and square,” the TikToker said. “And, all of a sudden, my fiancé, we just got engaged, just got moved to coach.”
According to Schwab, her partner was moved from his seat, which the couple had booked “ahead of time,” because the airline wanted a “part of the crew to sit in first class instead”.
“I understand that the crew works really hard, however, we booked these seats ahead of time and this is not fair,” she continued. “This is not customer service. I’m sorry, it’s just not customer service. Like, this is ridiculous.”
The video, which has since been viewed more than 1.7m times, has been met with outrage on the couple’s behalf, with many encouraging Schwab to ask the airline for compensation.
“Ask them how you will be compensated because they can’t just move you,” one person wrote, while another said: “Definitely not fair. Get a refund for the difference in seat prices asap!”
In a follow-up video, Schwab said: “Basically, what we were told is, this is how it works. Flight attendants take turns taking naps in the back of the plane, there’s usually bunks or seats that go out into a bed. So, what they were saying is, if a seat is not working … what they did instead was they went ahead and booted four people out of first class, including Mikey.”
In the video, the TikToker said she was told by airline staff that it’s not a “common practise,” as the plane is supposed to be put “out of service if you don’t have enough seats” for flight crew.
“Or you can do the screwed up thing and kick people out,” she said.
Schwab’s fiancé then claimed that, once they’d gotten off the plane, they were greeted by a customer service representative, who gave them a “glorified fast pass”.
“He gave us a business card and said just contact him whenever,” he continued, adding that the airline employee had reportedly offered to take them through customs ahead of their next flight. “He didn’t upgrade our next flight at all.”
The couple also claimed that another passenger who had been forced to move to coach from first class received compensation, but that they were allegedly told by airline staff there was “nothing” they could do and encouraged to “submit a claim online”.
The pair also alleged that they tried to talk to numerous airline employees, but were repeatedly told to handle the incident online.
As for the man who reportedly met the couple once they’d departed the plane, the couple said that they’d assumed he’d want to discuss the incident further, but that he waved them off once they got to the train to take them to another terminal in the airport.
“The guy was rushing us the whole time,” the TikToker’s partner said, adding that the airline employee also allegedly promised to “waive the fee” for overweight luggage despite their bags weighing less than the weight limit. “He basically kicked us to the curb,” Schwab added.
In a third video, Schwab was joined by her father, who confirmed that he’d paid for four first class tickets so the family wouldn’t be “stuck back in coach with everybody else”.
“It’s terrible business what these guys did,” he said, adding that he was also frustrated with the member of staff who reportedly said there was nothing they could do. “There’s plenty you can do, it’s called customer service,” he continued. “The customer is always right. You’re taking the side of the employee and making sure they sleep and kicking the customer back into coach. Terrible.”
The father-daughter duo then addressed comments from viewers who had questioned the story, with the pair claiming they “wished” they were making up the scenario.
The video sparked renewed concern from viewers, with many suggesting the passengers should be refunded “in full”.
“Oh my god @United Airlines this is totally unacceptable. Refund the ticket. IN FULL,” one person wrote, while another said: “You need to be very, very firm and demand speaking to higher ups! This is unacceptable and you need to be compensated! Don’t give up!”
Others corroborated the flight attendants’ explanation but alleged that the family still deserved to be compensated.
“It all makes sense if all the crew rest beds were unable to be moved, but his fare should be refunded for the inconvenience,” someone else wrote.
The Independent has contacted United Airlines and Schwab for comment.