Politics

Sheila Jackson Lee Cries Racism Over Aircraft Seat Flap

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief

Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee is citing racism as the reason another United Airlines passenger accused the Texas congresswoman of bumping her from a first-class seat.

On Tuesday, Jackson Lee tweeted her response to the the Dec. 18 seat flap, which she is describing as racially-motivated because both she and the flight attendant who looked after Jackson Lee were black and “seemingly an easy target.”

“Since this was not any fault of mine, the way the individual continued to act appeared to be, upon reflection, because I was an African American woman, seemingly an easy target along with the African American flight attendant who was very, very nice,” Jackson Lee explained on Twitter. “This saddens me, especially at this time of year given all of the things we have to work on to help people.”

Despite Jackson Lee’s efforts to make herself the victim, the controversy originally surrounded the story of passenger Jean-Marie Simon discovering just before she boarded the aircraft that her business section seat had been cancelled. Simon said she had not cancelled her ticket but was nonetheless reassigned to the economy section of the plane.

Simon soon found Jackson Lee sitting in the seat that Simon says was originally assigned to her. After photographing the scene, another flight attendant sidled next to her and inquired whether the irate passenger “was going to be a problem.”

Jackson Lee insists she “did nothing wrong” and neither demanded nor received treatment that was “exceptional or out of the ordinary.”

While offering an apology, “if it is perceived that I had anything to do with this,” Jackson Lee reiterated her belief that any objections were based on race, because “as an African American, I know there are too many examples like this all over the nation.”

In a statement to Fox News, United Airlines is denying they showed any special favor to the congresswoman and insist that Simon had cancelled her seat selection.

“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 company said in a statement.

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