Over the Christmas weekend, United Airlines was accused by a passenger of stealing her first class seat and giving it Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas.

Via Jean-Marie Simon, the passenger:

According to Simon, a “fellow Congressman” told her that Lee does this all the time:

The AP reported that United has since apologized to Simon, and that’s been picked up by a variety of other media outlets:

…but that’s not the case and Simon is asking media outlets to correct their reporting:

According to United, Simon cancelled her seat and that’s how Rep. Lee ended up with it. Simon denies that, however. From the Houston Chronicle:

Simon later learned that Jackson Lee was in her pre-purchased seat and has alleged that the congresswoman received preferential treatment, which United denies.

“After thoroughly examining our electronic records, we found that upon receiving a notification that Flight 788 was delayed due to weather, the customer appears to have canceled her flight from Houston to Washington, D.C. within the United mobile app,” United said in a statement. “As part of the normal pre-boarding process, gate agents began clearing standby and upgrade customers, including the first customer on the waitlist for an upgrade.”

Simon denies that she cancelled her ticket. She sent a reporter a screenshot of the United website showing only one “inactive” reservation – a flight to Houston in August to visit her daughter that she had to cancel because of Hurricane Harvey.

A United official said screenshot doesn’t show the December flight as cancelled because she ultimately took the flight.

The official provided another screenshot of United’s internal software system and said that it showed the flight had been cancelled on a mobile app, though a reporter was unable to independently verify that on Saturday because of the system’s coding.

Rep. Lee, of course, went on to play the race card after Simon took the photo posted above:

In her statement, Jackson Lee said she overheard Simon speaking with an African-American flight attendant and saw her snap the photo.

“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,” Jackson Lee said in the statement. “This saddens me, especially at this time of year given all of the things we have to work on to help people. But in the spirit of this season and out of the sincerity of my heart, if it is perceived that I had anything to do with this, I am kind enough to simply say sorry.”

So, who to believe?

FWIW, Lee does have some history here, so we need to take that into consideration:

Over to you, United. Can we get some verification that the screenshot provided to the Chronicle is indeed what the company says it is?

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