American Airlines passenger with first-class seat downgraded so off-duty pilot could sit

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By Dan Sears

Passengers thought this man should check his flight privilege.

An aggrieved passenger has claimed that American Airlines bumped his girlfriend from first class so an off-duty pilot could take her seat — after claiming that the seat was broken.

He detailed the alleged act of sky-high skullduggery in an X post taking off online.

“Y’all are terrible,” vented Jake Williams in the post, which occurred on an unspecified Embraer E-175 regional jet flight operated by AA.

The flyer claimed that the gate agent had upgraded him and his girlfriend to first class, only to boot her back to cattle class because of an alleged “broken seat.”

Then, in a shocking twist, an off-duty pilot sat in said seat, per the post.

The pilot.
“You all are terrible. You (gate agent) upgraded my girlfriend and I to first class,” passenger Jake Williams fumed in the X post. “You kick her out because broken seat move her to the back. Then pilot sits in said broken seat.”
@jwilliams0787 / X

Accompanying footage, shot by Williams, shows the off-duty flyboy hunkering down in the chair. “Here’s the pilot in the broken seat that they kicked my girlfriend out of,” the passenger laments in the clip.

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Interestingly, the commenters overwhelmingly sided with the airline with many claiming that Williams should’ve checked his flight privilege.

“Imagine crying on @X about getting your free upgrade taken away,” criticized one commenter on X. “Hope@AmericanAir take note and never offer you another free upgrade.

Another fumed, “Whining over an upgrade. I hope they ban you for life. That’s why airlines don’t give upgrades due to entitled people like you!”

An American Airlines flight taking off.
American Airlines pilots get first-class priority while deadheading, getting paid to fly to another airport for work despite not being on active duty.
Getty Images

Others wondered by the flyer didn’t make like a gentleman and let his girlfriend have the remaining first-class seat.

“A real man would have offered his seat to his girlfriend and then moved to coach himself,” declared one critic.

A customer service rep has since weighed in on the situation on X, writing: “Oh my, we’d like to take a closer look. Please meet us in DMs with your record locator.”

Often times uniformed pilots sit among passengers because they’re deadheading aka getting paid to fly to another airport for work despite not being on active duty,” per the travel blog “A View From the Wing.”

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Unlike other crewmembers who fly in coach during deadheads, American Airlines pilots get to fly first class due to a union contract (with the logic being that the more comfortable accommodations allow flyboys better rest before work).

In accordance, deadheading pilots take precedence over passengers when it comes to upgrades.

“If there was a broken seat that the pilot was in, that pilot will be ahead of passengers upgraded at the gate for a first-class seat, and American will need to downgrade the last passenger upgraded,” AVFTW wrote.

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