Michael Colyar is taking legal action after being kicked off of a United Airlines flight for not giving up his space to a White woman.
The comedian told S2S that he had gotten settled in his first-class seat on a fight from Dulles International Airport to Los Angeles, where he was set to do a gig.
Problems started when a White standby passenger with a "big bag" got on the plane at the very last minute. A flight attendant, who Michael said seemed to be friendly with the passenger, demanded that the comedian remove his luggage from the overhead bin to accommodate the woman’s bag.
"Everything was done incorrectly by these flight attendants, but I think she was just trying to accommodate a friend," Michael said.
"They went to find overhead space, and they couldn’t find it until they got to my space. And it was like, ‘Well, you’re going to have to put this under your seat,’" said Michael, who refused to move his bag for someone else. Passengers are allowed to put one piece of luggage under the seat and one over. "They got upset about it and went and talked to the other flight attendants and started mean-mugging me."
The behavior made Michael, whose wife worked as a flight attendant for United for about 20 years, very uncomfortable. "That made me nervous because you can’t fly for four hours with people mad at you because you can’t eat or drink nothing," he said.
Michael claims that things took a turn for the worse when he tried to report the incident to the head flight attendant and was met with opposition.
"They wouldn’t allow that. Instead of that, they had another meeting and brought the captain in," Michael recalled. "And they called the federal marshals, who subsequently came and removed me from the plane."
In Michael’s opinion the staff had no grounds to kick him off of the flight because he wasn’t drunk or antagonizing the staff. In fact, the comedian claimed that he remained totally above board as the flight crew embarrassed him in front of a plane full of people, some of whom were his fans.
"I consider it a solely racist situation because everybody involved in it was White but me," Michael stated. "[If I were] White, I gaurantee you that someone would have at least spoken to me."
That is the crux of the matter, according to Michael. He said that the whole thing could have been avoided had the flight attendant just asked him if he would move his luggage politely instead of ordering him to accommodate the other passenger. Beyond that, Michael thinks that his calm demeanor frustrated the staff because he refused to act out during the incident.
The comedian is now planning to take legal action against the airline, and TMZ.com reports that he’s hired Rodney King’s lawyer Milton Grimes to handle the case.