CHARLOTTE, N.C.—On Friday, U.S. Airlines issued an apology after passengers said that an airline flight attendant refused to hang up a U.S. Army Special Forces soldier’s jacket.
The incident occurred on board U.S. Airways Flight 1930 from Portland, Or. to Charlotte on Tuesday.
“We apologize for the situation and are reviewing the incident internally. We have a long and proud history of serving our military members and hold the men and women who serve our country in the highest regard,” read the statement.
First Sgt. Albert Marle had asked a flight attendant if she could hang up his jacket to keep it from getting wrinkled.
According to passengers on board, the flight attendant refused, citing a policy that said the closet was only for first-class passengers—and Marle wasn’t one of them.
An airline spokesperson said that Marle was the fourth person to make that request and the closet didn’t have space.
Passengers, however, tell a different version of events.
“Her response wasn’t that there’s not space in the closet or ‘I’ve hung too many jackets up,” said Brian Kirby, first-class passenger on Flight 1930. “It was just simply, ‘Our airline policy says I’m not going to do it, so I’m not going to do it.”
Passengers said that Marle did not raise a fuss, and quietly returned to his seat. Some of the first-class passengers reportedly offered him their seat, but he refused.
“He was more than willing to take his seat,” said Kirby. “He was not going to make an issue of it. It was us in first class that made an issue out of it.”
“It may not have seemed like a big deal and he certainly wouldn’t have made a big deal about it but it’s important someone stands up and says this is not correct it needs to be fixed,” Kirby added.
WSOCTV reports that after the story went viral, thousands of people blasted the airline online.
Marle’s parents said that their son’s uniform is very important to him, and that he has been wearing it on job interviews across the country as he pursues his dream of being a doctor.
A U.S. Airways spokesperson said that they are currently trying to reach Marle to thank him for his service. The airline stressed that it values service members and said that they consider this a serious issue.