Nigerian woman to sue airline claiming she was booted from flight after white man complained of odor

A United Airlines plane takes off (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

In the latest in a long line of incidents, United Airlines is facing a racial discrimination lawsuit following an incident where a Nigerian woman and her children were kicked off a United Airlines flight after, she alleges, a white male passenger complained that she had a “pungent” odor.

The suit was filed in Federal court on Friday in Houston. The suit states, according to the Washington Post, that Queen Obioma, a Nigerian citizen, and her two children were boarding a flight from Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport to San Francisco on March 4, 2016. The family had flown from Lagos, Nigeria, and were on the second leg of a three-flight trip to Canada. Upon boarding, Obioma alleges that the unnamed white passenger was sitting in her business class seat. The man refused to move, so a flight crew member, instead, asked Obioma to sit elsewhere in business class.

READ MORE: Black sorority members performing a community service are questioned by police

Later, before takeoff, Obioma went to use the bathroom. On her way back to her seat the same passenger was standing in the aisle and blocking her from getting to her seat, the lawsuit says. She said “excuse me” three times but was ignored.

After several minutes, Obioma managed to get back to her seat. But after she sat down, a crew member told Obioma to get off the plane, and she was told would be removed from the flight.

Legal action

The lawsuit alleges that United discriminated against Obioma and her children. It also accuses crew members of singling out Obioma, not because she was being disruptive, but because a white man — who refused to sit in his assigned seat — did not want to share a plane with her. and further claims that the pilot had personally requested that she be removed because the male passenger had complained that her smell was “pungent” and that he was not comfortable flying with her.

“At that point Ms. Obioma was lost, confused and disoriented. Her mind went blank and she was utterly befuddled,” according to the complaint.

READ MORE: Chadwick Boseman encourages grads at Howard commencement
READ MORE: White Wisconsin cop caught on video punching Black teen

Obioma explained that she was taking her children to school in Canada for the first time and that they had appointments they could not miss. Despite her situation, crew members refused to let Obioma back onto the aircraft and removed the entire family from the flight.

Obioma and her children waited for five hours before they could get on another flight, missing their scheduled appointments. Obioma also incurred more expenses, the lawsuit says.

A United spokeswoman said in a statement that the company has not been served with the lawsuit and is unable to comment because of the pending litigation.