Mother Booted From Plane for 'Pungent' Odor, Suit Says

United Airlines won't comment on the case
By Josh Gardner,  Newser Staff
Posted May 13, 2018 1:30 PM CDT
People stand in line at a United Airlines counter at LaGuardia Airport in New York   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

(Newser) – A Nigerian mother claims she and her family were booted from a United Airlines flight because of what they called her "pungent" odor. Per the Houston Chronicle, the mother has filed a civil suit alleging discrimination on the part of the airline. The suit claims the woman, Queen Obioma, and her children were boarding a San Francisco-bound flight in March 2016 when Obioma arrived to her seat to find it occupied by a man, who was white. When the man declined to move, Obioma eventually agreed to take a different business-class seat, according to the suit. Obioma says she went to the bathroom before takeoff and upon her return the man blocked her from sitting back down. The suit claims Obioma was then escorted from the plane and informed it was because of her body odor.

As the Miami Herald notes, most airlines reserve the right to remove foul-smelling passengers at their discretion. However, Obioma says she and her family were victims of racism. The suit claims United "wrongfully singled out Ms. Obioma and her children because they were blacks, and punished them because a white man did not want them on the plane." The family eventually made it to San Francisco, albeit five hours late, and on to Canada where Obioma's children attend school. In a statement emailed to news outlets, United Airlines declined to comment on the "pending litigation involved in this matter." Obioma is asking for punitive damages and attorney's fees.

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