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Nigerian passenger booted of United Airlines flight because of ‘pungent’ odor files lawsuit claiming racial discrimination

May 17, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Nigerian passenger booted of United Airlines flight because of ‘pungent’ odor files lawsuit claiming racial discrimination

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A Nigerian woman is suing United Airlines to court, claiming that the airline racially discriminated against her in taking her off the flight at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport after a passenger complained that she had a “pungent” smell.

On May 11th, Queen Obioma filed a federal discrimination lawsuit in Texas. The suit alleges that she and her children were wrongfully removed from a flight destined to San Francisco in March 2016, the second leg of a three-flight trip from Lagos, Nigeria, to Ontario, Canada, where her children attend school, the New York Post reports.

According to the suit, Obioma boarded and found a male passenger sitting in her business class seat, from which he refused to get up. When a flight attendant neglected to resolve the issue as the man continued to refuse to move to his seat, Obioma went to sit in his spot.

Obioma went to the bathroom before takeoff and returned to find the man blocking her from getting to her seat for several minutes. The mother then claims that an airline staffer, who has been identified as Russel H., ordered her to step off the plane, where she was told that the pilot requested that she exit as the man causing trouble complained that she was “pungent” and did not want to fly with her.

Shaken, Obioma had her children taken off the flight as well, and they made their connection five hours later. A frequent flyer member of United’s Star Alliance program, the woman claims the airline discriminated against her because she is black, African and Nigerian.

Obioma is seeking punitive damages and legal fees.

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