United Airlines denies downgrading passenger’s seat so Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee could fly first class

HOUSTON  - United Airlines has a first-class kerfuffle on its hands and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee is sitting right in the middle of it -- and another passenger's seat.

According to Jean-Marie Simon, her pre-booked first-class window seat from Houston to Washington D.C. last week was given away, despite what her boarding pass confirmed.  She was re-seated in economy-plus.

United says it issued an apology and a $500 voucher to the passenger, but according to Simon's latest Facebook post, that's not the case.

"I have received NO written apology from United. The voucher was issued at the gate, just before I boarded, just after United canceled my ticket," the post read.

Simon says the United gate agent gave her an ultimatum to take the voucher and get on the plane,  or find another flight.

In a written statement to NewsFix, United says Simon canceled her flight using the airline's mobile app and that's why her original seat was given away, but they still accommodated her.

"We were concerned by this issue and took immediate steps to fully understand what happened.  After thoroughly examining our electronic records, we found that upon receiving a notification that Flight 788 was delayed due to weather, the customer canceled her flight from Houston to Washington, D.C. within the United mobile app. As part of the normal pre-boarding process, gate agents began clearing standby and upgrade customers, including the first customer on the waitlist for an upgrade," the statement read.

United showed NewsFix computer records, which they said is proof, that the flight from Houston to D.C. was scheduled at 11:55 a.m. on Dec. 18 and the passenger canceled it via the mobile app at 11:22 a.m. For privacy reasons, we can not show you images of United Airlines' records.

They went on to explain that once the flight was rescheduled, the woman went to the gate to claim the flight, but an agent explained that it was no longer available. The agent did, however, give Simon an economy seat.

United said the congresswoman, who was initially flying economy, was seated near the gate area when agents offered her the first class seat.

On Facebook, Simon says this is a case of preferential treatment.

As for Jackson Lee, she said she didn't ask for anything, "exceptional or out of the ordinary."

Still, she got a front row seat for this first-class controversy!

Stay connected! Download the CW39 NewsFix app for iOS or Android devices and the CW39 Weather app for iOS or Android devices.