WATCH ABOVE: An Ontario grandmother hoping to celebrate her birthday in Aruba was forced off a United Airlines flight. Cindy Pom reports.
Cathy Caride Watson was looking forward to celebrating her 62nd birthday in Aruba with her sister last month, when she was kicked off a flight en route to the Caribbean island.
“I was devastated,” the Ajax, Ont. grandmother told Global News.
Watson, who struggles with mobility issues due to a large hernia and two knee replacements, requested a seat with extra leg room while on the plane ahead of its departure from Newark, New Jersey. That’s when she was told by airline staff she would have to pay an extra $149 USD.
Watson refused to pay, and says she was told the price was significantly less prior to boarding. She explained that she didn’t get the chance to pay beforehand, as she was rushed onto the plane due to a gate change.
She then decided to take an unoccupied aisle seat to give herself more space when the trouble began.
“The pilot wants you off the plane,” Watson said a flight attendant told her. “I felt like garbage. Like I was just the luggage. Not even the luggage.”
“She was really upset, it got me upset,” Watson’s sister, Mary Porretta, said. “We were both crying.” United Airlines has since acknowledged the incident.
“We’re disappointed anytime a customer has an experience that doesn’t measure up to their expectations,” the airline said in a statement.
“Our crew worked with Ms. Caride to find a seat where she would be comfortable. We offered her the option to upgrade to EconomyPlus and she declined. When she did not follow crew member instructions, she was asked to leave the plane.” But one aviation expert suggests the airline could be at fault.
United ended up booking Watson and her sister on a new flight the next day. They even gave her a seat with extra leg room at no extra cost.