United Airlines apologizes after canceling man's reservation at Armstrong
KENNER, LA (WVUE) - United Airlines has apologized after a heated exchange between a would-be passenger and a customer service agent was recorded Saturday morning at the Armstrong International Airport in Kenner.
California native Navang Oza said he was refused entry on a flight to the West Coast after he started recording his experience on his cellphone.
"You do not have my permission to videotape," the agent said during the recording. Moments later the agent tells a fellow United worker, "What's his name? Cancel the reservation."
Oza asked why his reservation was canceled and the agent responded, "Because you do not have my permission".
Oza said he started the recording after the agent told him he would have to pay $300 to check a bag that he said was $125 to check for his flight to New Orleans.
"I don't know the situation. I know that you're videotaping, and I know that this is unacceptable," the agent told Oza.
"I don't think that what he did was wrong at all, especially not legally," attorney Bobby Hjortsberg said. "It's a public place. He wasn't doing anything wrong. He didn't break any laws. He was simply just trying to document what was happening."
During the recorded confrontation, a Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Deputy approached Oza to calm the situation. The deputy made comments to Oza about his condition.
"Sir, you have the right to do what you want. It's a public space. Have you been drinking?" the deputy asked.
Oza responded with "obviously," but in his post, he claimed he only drank two beers before his heated exchange with the agent.
United Airlines does have a policy where agents can refuse a passenger if the passenger is intoxicated and if the agent feels the passenger is a threat to other passengers.
However in the video, the agent never mentioned the Oza's intoxication level nor did the airline in its released statement, saying:
"The video does not reflect the positive customer experience we strive to offer and for that we apologize. We are reviewing this situation, including talking with Mr. Oza and our employees, to better understand what happened."
Hjortsberg said the policy for refusing based on intoxication is a gray area because passengers are allowed to drink but not be belligerent.
"I just think that this is obviously an example of an airline attendant getting too upset too quickly," he said. "I realize they have a very stressful job and they're always getting a lot of complaints from people, but I think a little more patience especially in this situation would have gone a long way."
The deputy escorted Oza to a taxi and suggested he get a flight when he was "sober."
Oza declined an interview with FOX 8. He said he was already getting threats for posting his experience online.
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