A United flight turned into a cat-astrophe for one allergic woman.
Donna Wiegel was booted from the friendly skies because she complained that she was seated too close to a cat, despite her health problems.
She first saw another passenger with the feline at the gate area in Baltimore as she waited for her flight to Chicago on March 4. She said she told an agent that she needed to be seated as far away from the feline as possible.
“I have a lot of respiratory problems and asthma,” she told NBC Chicago. “And cats are a trigger that I have to avoid at all costs.”
But once she got on the plane, the woman and her kitty were seated just a few rows away.
“I said, ‘Oh, that is way too close,’” she said, and was told to swap seats with another passenger in the back of the plane. “I still balked at that and said, ‘Why do I have to move? Why can’t the cat move?’”
She said she was told the cat could not be moved, so she made her way to another seat but was confronted by three crew members.
“They said, ‘You’ll have to come with us — the crew is not comfortable having you on the flight,’” she recalled. “I’ve never been kicked off a plane, and I was just so stunned that this would happen to me.”
She said her suitcase’s handle was broken when it was wrestled from the overhead bin and that when she got to the gate area, TSA agents were waiting.
Crew members told her she couldn’t stay on the flight because they feared she would have a medical emergency if she remained on board.
But she said she was most distressed by the treatment she received.
“You know, I’m hyperventilating at this point,” she said. “Almost in a full-blown asthma attack.”
Wiegel was eventually driven to Washington Dulles Airport, where she was put on a 10:30 p.m. United flight to Chicago.
She said United had not responded to her online complaint.
“We’re disappointed anytime a customer has an experience that doesn’t measure up to their expectations,” United told NBC in a statement. “We reached out to Ms. Wiegel today to apologize and find out more about what happened. We are working with our partner on this flight, GoJet Airlines, who operated this flight, to get more details.”
The news emerged shortly after the embattled airline reached a settlement with a Kentucky doctor who was injured after being violently dragged off his overbooked flight.
Dr. David Dao and United reached an “amicable” settlement for an undisclosed amount.