United Allegedly Makes Woman Switch Seats Because Two Men Didn’t Want to Sit with a Woman

According to million-mile flyer, Mary Campos, United switched her from her pre-booked seat to another one to accommodate a request.

united airlines

It wasn’t a request to move a family together or to move an underaged person out of the exit row.  The two men who were going to share the row with her requested that she be moved.  They didn’t want to sit next to a woman.

According to CBS News:

A million-mile flier, Campos, a mom who lives in Coto de Caza, said she thought she’d seen it all – until a gate agent handed her a new boarding pass just before she got on a flight to Houston last Monday.

“He said, ‘This is your new seat,’†Campos said, “and I said, ‘Excuse me?’ And he said, ‘I don’t know how to tell you this.’â€

She said she continued by saying, “Yes?â€

And the agent told her, “The two gentlemen seated next to you have cultural beliefs that prevent them for sitting next to, talking to or communicating with females.â€

Campos was told the men were Pakistani monks who were wearing long orange shirts. She said the female flight crew was not allowed to serve the men.

Back in February, a woman planned to sue El Al after the men she was seated next to asked her to move.

From the New York Times:

“There were two women seated there,†she said. “I thought, ‘Oy, if they are going to talk all night I am not going to be happy.’†She asked the flight attendant if he was suggesting the switch because the man next to her wanted her to move, she said, “and he said ‘yes’ without any hesitation.â€

WHEN Ms. Rabinowitz returned to her original seat to collect her hand luggage, with the attendant’s assistance, she asked the other passenger, “Why does it matter? I’m 81 years old. And he says, ‘It’s in the Torah.’ â€

In this specific case, Ms. Campos doesn’t plan to sue.  She wants people to be aware of what happened.

When an airline switches a seat for a frequent-flyer, it’s usually a sticky situation.  Since they have access to premium seats, they usually book their seats with specific intention.  But it doesn’t always work out that way.

When I was a Chairman on US Airways, I was swapped to a middle seat to accommodate a family.  Their child had been sat by herself in the middle seat.  But I couldn’t complain at all–the child’s sitting with her family was clearly more important than my sitting in my original seat.

But I think this case is different.  The flyer was moved to accommodate someone else’s preference–and a preference that had to do with the woman’s gender.

Hat tip to Tiff C.!

Edit:  Added a line from the first story to make it more clear that these two situations involve different sets of religious beliefs.

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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  1. This may be more common than you think — I’ve seen it twice on flights from NYC to Florida over the years.

  2. and this is part of the problem…….if they didn’t like it they should have booked all 3 seat’s and paid for them or flown an airline that accommodates their beliefs …..why should other people have to give up their pre booked seats …..I would have refused and said if they didn’t like it wait for another flight…….political correctness sometimes just goes too far. If its in the Torah that’s fine but don’t make it other peoples problem…..you can see the seat map online find one with two seats together so many options …..but no lets make the 81 yr old lady move……. disgraceful and the airline should said sorry thats not our policy we will see if we can change your seats.

  3. As a religious Jew and a frequent flyer I feel when traveling and at all times in life we best be understanding of everyone’s feelings and beliefs. Just bec we don’t like or understand someone else’s beliefs or religion doesn’t make it invalid!

    These people’s traditions and culture strictly forbid sitting next to a woman. Who are we to judge that?
    How do you like it when you are judged for your traditions hobbies and loves?

    • Then, they should rent a car & drive. It is NOT incumbent for other paying customers to defer to their beliefs, religious or otherwise.

  4. Isn’t it a shame that people are not just plain nice any more? There is no suggestion that the lady was asked to move from a window or an aisle seat to a middle seat, still less that she was shifted out of Business into Economy. Yes she may always take a seat in Row 9 because she was born in 9 High Street and the number 9 has good memories but can’t we go back to the old days when people were just plain nice? The seating arrangements were obviously important to these gentlemen. Why not say “I am happy I was able to make someone else happy”, instead of bellyaching and making a fuss? When you book a ticket you have no right to any specific seat. I have been given an updated boarding pass at the gate. I look at it and unless there is a specific reason for making a fuss, I just smile and say “thank you for pointing out the seat assignment has changed”. Isn’t that a decent way to behave?

  5. The article also says “the female flight crew was not allowed to serve the men”.

    Okay, what if an emergency situation arises? Are they going to ignore the instructions from the female crew simply because they are female? Could they possibly endanger other passengers in the case of an emergency because of their religious beliefs? If someone said their religion did not allow them to interact with a person because of their race, sexual orientation, or some other quality people would be up in arms about discrimination. But because she’s a woman it’s somehow “okay” and we should “respect their beliefs”.

  6. Sorry, but these men in AMERICA have no right to ask or demand anything like this . They should have been moved to the rear of the aircraft where it normally narrows, near a toilet. If there were no male attendants then they should not have been served nor helped in an emergency. I really cannot believe there are people posting opposite opinions here in the U.S. And there is no reason to include that she was a frequent traveler. If she was my mother on her first flight would this have made a difference?

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