US Airways has apologized after one of its flight attendants refused to hang a soldier’s uniform in the plane’s coat closet because he was not seated in first class.
"To be sure, we simply did not get this one right,” US Airways Capt. Jim Palmersheim, the senior manager for Veterans and Military Initiatives, wrote in a lengthy post on the company’s Facebook page.
The incident occurred during a red eye flight from Portland, Oregon, that landed in Charlotte, North Carolina, Thursday morning.
According to passenger Cliff Autrey, who was sitting in first class, he heard First Sgt. Albert Marle talking to a female flight attendant.
"I said ‘Top, what’s going on,’” Autrey told ABC News, using a military nickname for a soldier of Marle’s rank.
Marle told him that he had asked to have his uniform jacket hung in the closet because "he didn’t want to get it wrinkled,” Autrey said.
"I thought to myself ‘Well that’s not a lot to ask,” Autrey said.
The flight attendant didn’t have the same reaction, however, and Autrey said that she became "quite emphatic,” reportedly saying that the closet was used only for first class passengers. She also put an end to Autrey’s offer to switch seats with the soldier.
"She would not hear of that,” Autrey told ABC News. "She was reluctant to let that happen.”
The passenger seated behind Autrey in first class resolved the issue by taking Marle’s jacket and hanging it behind his chair, returning it to the soldier once they landed.
A woman who answered the phone at Marle's home said he did not want to discuss the incident.
"I don’t think she handled it right,” Autrey said. "It would have been a non-issue to have done that soldier the courtesy to hang up his jacket.”
The airline began apologizing on Friday, posting their respect for soldiers like Marle, an Army Ranger, on social media.
"We hold all those serving our country in the highest regard and apologize for any offense caused. We are reviewing the incident internally,” their Twitter post read.
They followed that up with a lengthy Facebook post on Saturday, highlighting various initiatives they have for service families.
"I share all of this not to deflect, but to try and provide a little understanding of just how committed we are to our active and retired military and how seriously we are taking this situation,” Palmersheim wrote in the Facebook note.