Rep. Sheila Jackson Denies Preferential Treatment From Airline
Mark Wilson/

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) rebuffed accusations of getting special treatment after a White passenger claimed she lost her first-class United Airlines seat because of the Congresswoman.

On Tuesday, passenger Jean-Marie Simon attempted to board a flight from Houston to Washington, D.C. with a paper ticket, only to be told that it was no longer valid. She then complained to attendants, claiming they gave preferential treatment to Jackson Lee —who she recognized— because of her political clout.

Jackson Lee addressed the incident in a series of tweets, explaining what happened in detail.

“After receiving my boarding pass, I boarded the plane in the normal process,” Jackson said on Twitter. “I did nothing wrong. I asked for nothing exceptional or out of the ordinary and received nothing exceptional or out of the ordinary. I proceeded to take my seat and work on legislative issues on my way to Washington.”

“Although I was not involved, I observed a disruption by an individual walking back and forth in the cabin. I could overhear her speaking with a flight attendant (an African American woman).”

Jackson goes on to note that the upset passenger’s ticket had, apparently, cancelled her own ticket. 

“I noted that this individual came toward me and took a picture. I heard later that she might have said, ‘I know who she is.’ 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.”

Adding, “This saddens me, especially at this time of year given all of the things we have to work on to help people.”

As reported by NBC, United Airlines in a statement Tuesday said Simon canceled her flight from Houston to Washington with the United Mobile app. And a spokesperson in an interview denied that Jackson Lee was given the first-class seat simply because she was a Congresswoman.