An ugly situation unfolded prior to a United Airlines redeye flight to Houston after a man became agitated when asked to move out of a first class seat that was not even his own. Before the dust settled, the thug repeatedly punched a female gate agent.
Crazed Passenger First Tries To Steal First Class Seats Then Punches United Airlines Gate Agent When Told To Move
Cody Benjamin Lovins, 47 years old, and his wife took a pair of first class seats on a United Airlines late-night flight from San Francisco (SFO) to Houston (IAH). Neither of those seats was assigned to them and when Naya Jimenez boarded the flight, she found her seat occupied.
When she gently explained that Lovins’ wife was in her seat, the couple directed her to find another seat. Eventually, a flight attendant came by and Jimenez asked for assistance. A gate agent was brought onboard where the Lovins explained they had decided to upgrade themselves because they faced a flight delay earlier. The gate agent explained that self-upgrades were not permitted, prompting anger (Mr. Lovins was also slurring his words at this point). Refusing to move, the gate agent said that the Lovins would have to step off the aircraft and could not travel to Houston.
Lovins then stood up and attacked the gate agent, repeatedly punching her (Jimenez said this was a flight attendant, but it appears to be a gate agent, as does United’s statement below on the incident). He was pulled off by other passengers aboard and retreated to the front galley, where he pulled open an emergency exit door and was about to jump (to his death or least broken bones) when he was pulled back to safety.
He was then arrested and charged with battery.
A United Airlines spokesperson confirmed the incident:
“On Sunday night, our team at San Francisco International Airport immediately contacted law enforcement after a disruptive customer assaulted one of our customer service employees during boarding. This customer’s behavior was unacceptable, he has been banned from future United flights, and we are working with local law enforcement in their investigation.”
It is not clear if the gate agent was injured, but she was certainly battered. It also appears to me the gate agent may have been male, though Jimenez has repeatedly stated it was a female United employee who was attacked.
This is a horrible incident. While I can understand the frustration of a flight delay, you cannot just help yourself to a first class seat and then attack a gate agent. A permanent ban is a good start, but Lovins should face prison time and a steep fine for his poor conduct onboard.
image + video: Naya Jimenez