United Airlines passenger speaking (l) United Airlines plane (c) United Airlines passenger speaking (r)

EQRoy/Shutterstock @watergirl8296/TikTok (Licensed) Remix by Caterina Cox

‘We booked these seats fair and square’: Traveler says United booted her fiance to coach so a crew member could sit in first class

'If they take my seat, someone is refunding my money.'


Jack Alban


Posted on May 24, 2023   Updated on May 24, 2023, 11:46 am CDT

Imagine you’re celebrating a new engagement, so you decided to splurge a little and get yourself first-class tickets. As you nuzzle up next to the person you’re going to spend the rest of your life with, you happily luxuriate in your ample, comfy seats and await the glories the upper echelon of society gets to enjoy on commercial airliners.

But then a flight member tells you that your beloved has to get booted from their seat, which you guys paid for, to make room for a crew member.

Now, your significant other is left in an economy seat while you’re in first class, wondering what just happened.

That’s what TikToker Danielle Schwab (@watergirl8296) says occurred with her and her fiance on a United Airlines flight from London Heathrow Airport to Chicago. She shared the situation on the plane in a viral clip that’s garnered over 7,000 likes on the popular social media platform as of Wednesday morning.

@watergirl8296 #unitedairlines #dobetter #unitedairlinestiktok #fyp ♬ original sound – Danielle Schwab

Schwab records the video from what appears to be the cabin of the plane.

“We booked these seats. We’re in first class,” she describes. “We booked these seats fair and square, and all the sudden my fiance, we just got engaged, my fiance just got moved to coach.”

She claims the airline’s reasoning for moving her fiance was to make room for a crew member in first class.

“They bumped him because they wanted a flight attendant, or not flight attendant, they wanted someone a part of the crew to sit in first class instead,” she says. “I understand that the crew works really hard, however, we booked these seats ahead of time and this is not fair.”

Schwab concludes the video by saying, “This is not customer service. I’m sorry it’s just not customer service like this is ridiculous.”

One commenter suggested that she should’ve immediately asked the airline how they would redress the pricing discrepancy between the seats that they paid for and the coach seat her fiance was moved to.

“Ask them how you will be compensated bc they can’t just move you,” they stated.

Someone else penned, “Definitely not fair. Get a refund for the difference in seat prices asap!”

Another user speculated that there may’ve been something fishy about the situation. “I don’t think that’s proper protocol,” they claimed.

“I pay a lot of money for first class if they take my seat someone is refunding my money,” a further commenter insisted.

There’s been a lot written online about what happens in the event that someone is “downgraded” on a flight. Though it sounds like an unlikely scenario, airlines can change the seating arrangement on a flight for whatever reason.

Alternative Airlines delineates what passengers should do in the event of an involuntary downgrade and what their rights are. Citing figures from the Civil Aviation Authority, airlines are supposed to refund passengers a portion of the price of their ticket within seven days of said flight.

If a passenger is on a “short haul” flight which is defined as up to 932 miles, then they’re entitled to 30% of the cost of their ticket. If the flight is up to 2175 miles, then fliers will get half of their ticket reimbursed. And if someone is on a long-haul flight, which is anything above that figure, then they’re entitled to 75% of their ticket refunded in the event of an involuntary downgrade.

However, one United Airlines flier has had gripes with the flight company on a return trip from the U.S. Virgin Islands from Kansas City. He and his wife were downgraded from first class as they were put on another flight that didn’t offer first-class seats.

The amount that he and his wife were refunded? $65.22 per person, a total of $130.44, despite showing the difference in airfares between first-class tickets and economy seating.

Another United flier claimed in a Reddit post that they experienced a similar situation while traveling with the airline but seemed to have a much more favorable customer experience. Just like the couple traveling from the Virgin Islands to Kansas City, they had to get their flight rescheduled, and there was no first-class room on the other flight.

This Reddit user said that after she contacted the United Premier desk customer service refunded her the fare difference for the tickets, in addition to offering her 7,500 miles.

The Daily Dot has reached out to United via email and Schwab via TikTok comment for further information.

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*First Published: May 24, 2023, 11:45 am CDT