Jan and Mechelle Player said that when they saw the viral video of a passenger being dragged from a United Airlines flight, they both had the same reaction.
"That was us,” Jan said. “If we had refused to get up, that would have been us. They told us 'We will drag you off.'"
"I put my seat belt on real tight and I said, ‘I'm not going,’” Mechelle recalled. “I was going to be a hard-headed Cajun girl and just sit there. So I could have been the one dragged off."
The Players said that back in early March, they flew to England for a family celebration using tickets they had purchased six months before for a United flight from Houston to London.
Jan said that the trouble started after they were already onboard the airplane.
"We had assigned seats, sitting next to one another, and when we got on the plane they directed me one way and my wife another way,” Jan recalled. “My wife told them we were supposed to be sitting together and the stewardess said, 'We're full. Sit down and be quiet.'"
Jan said that moments later, airline representatives told them they had to get off the plane. Jan said that when they refused to leave, two police officers came on board and told the couple that if they didn't cooperate, they would be arrested.
"They were very nice. He said 'Your problem is with United, not us, but if we have to drag you off, and we will, you will go to jail,' so I got up and we left," Jan explained.
Mechelle said that they were booted from the flight because United made an unexpected change of aircraft and used a smaller airplane that could not accommodate all the passengers. Jan said that as customers were boarding, airline personnel tried to recruit volunteers to take a later flight for a $400 stipend, but there were no takers.
Mechelle noted that problems continued once they were back in the terminal.
"Once we were taken off the plane, there was nothing. Everyone was gone. We're just standing there saying, ‘Okay? What are we supposed to do?’" she said.
Eventually, they said that gate personnel showed up and they were able to board the next flight out some five hours later. The couple said that because of the delay, and the time difference, they lost an entire vacation day and very nearly missed the family celebration to which they were headed.
"I've got no response whatsoever from them. It's just been ignored." said Jan, adding that he has sent the company two messages, asking for an explanation.
Late Thursday, United responded to KENS 5’s request for a comment with a statement, which read:
We are sorry to hear about the Players' experience and we want to talk to them further to better understand what happened aboard their flight. We will be reaching out to them directly.
As announced earlier this week, we will not call a law enforcement official on an aircraft to remove a passenger unless it is a matter of safety and security.