An American Airlines passenger claims his girlfriend was booted from first class so an off-duty pilot could take her seat

  • An American Airlines passenger claims the airline booted his girlfriend from her first-class seat.

  • The man wrote in a post on X that the crew initially said his girlfriend's seat was broken.

  • He added that a pilot was seated in the first-class spot instead.

An American Airlines passenger claims the airline booted his girlfriend from her first-class seat so a pilot could sit there instead.

In a post to X on Tuesday, Jake Williams, the passenger, wrote that a gate agent had upgraded the couple to first class. The pair was then told that the girlfriend's seat was broken and that she had to move "to the back."

Then, the passenger says, a pilot took the seat in her place.

"You all are terrible," the man's post read. "You (gate agent) upgraded my girlfriend and I to first class. You kick her out because broken seat move her to the back. Then pilot sits in said broken seat."

The video shows a man in what appears to be a pilot's uniform settling into the seat. It's unclear what day the flight occurred, where it originated, or where it landed.

American Airlines and Williams did not respond to a request for comment from Insider made outside regular working hours, but a customer-service representative commented on Williams' post on Tuesday, asking to "take a closer look" at his claim.

Sometimes, off-duty pilots are seated among other passengers because they're "deadheading," or being paid to fly to another location for work but aren't actively working yet.

The industry publication View from the Wing reported in August that while other airlines' employees typically sit in economy while deadheading, American Airlines pilots get first-class priority thanks to a union contract.

American Airlines pilots
Thanks to a new union contract, American Airlines' deadheading pilots get upgrade priority over passengers.Mike Stone/Reuters

According to the blog, American Airlines' deadheading pilots get priority over passengers for upgrades. The idea is that first class's larger, more comfortable seats help pilots get better rest before operating passenger planes.

Williams' situation isn't the first time this year that an airline has bumped a passenger from first class so a pilot could take their seat. In September, a 78-year-old man was downgraded to make space for an off-duty pilot.

The man flew with Qantas and was moved to economy because the flight had no business-class seats left.

"As part of their enterprise agreement, pilots that are flying to another city to then operate flights are to be provided with a seat in Business," the airline said in a statement to Insider at the time.

Read the original article on Insider