A Nigerian woman headed to Ontario with her children was kicked off an United Airlines flight in Houston in 2016 after another passenger complained of her “pungent” odour.
In a lawsuit filed Friday in Houston, Queen Obiama contends that she was in the middle of a trip from Lagos, Nigeria to Ontario, with layovers in Houston and San Francisco, when her journey was interrupted, the Houston Chronicle reports.
After seating her children, Obiama went to her seat, only to discover another passenger was sitting in the seat. The lawsuit says she let the white male know he was sitting in the wrong seat only to be ignored. She called a flight attendant over, who asked the man to move but he refused.
As she was putting her carry-on luggage away, Obiama noticed the man head to the cockpit, where he spoke with the pilot.
Upon returning to her seat, she says the passenger then blocked her entrance to the seat. After Obiama finally managed to squeeze her way in, a flight attendant came over and said someone needed to speak with her outside.
Once she arrived outside, Obiama says another United Airlines employee told her that the man in her seat had informed staff “he was not comfortable flying with her because she was ‘pungent.’”
Staff would not allow her back onto the aircraft to get her children. They were escorted off, along with their luggage.
They were allowed to board a flight that departed five hours later, but says the delays forced them to miss meetings in Canada.
Obiama’s lawsuit contends that she was discriminated based upon her race and country of origin.
United Airlines refused to comment when contacted by the Houston Chronicle, saying: “We have not yet been served with this suit and due to the pending litigation involved in this matter, we’re unable to provide further comment.”