Woman booted off United Airlines flight after refusing to sit near cat

The cat got to stay (Getty)
The cat got to stay (Getty)

A woman says she was "perp-walked" off a United Airlines flight after complaining she was sitting too close to a cat.

Adding insult to injury, the cat got to stay.

Donna Wiegel told NBC News she has "a lot of respiratory problems and asthma" and she has to avoid cats "at all costs".

The incident pre-dates the now-infamous beating given to David Dao after he refused to give up his seat to United Airlines staff after his flight was overbooked.

On March 4, Ms Wiegel says she had a ticket from Baltimore to Chicago, taking off at 5:30pm. But after getting on the plane, she saw a fellow passenger with a cat just a few seats away.

"I said, 'Oh, that is way too close.'"

Flight crew told her she could swap with another passenger down the back of the plane, but she wasn't having any of that.

"I still balked at that and said, 'Why do I have to move? Why can't the cat move?'"

That's when she was told to get off.

"You know, I'm hyperventilating at this point," she told NBC, "almost in a full blown asthma attack."

Nearly eight weeks after laying a complaint with the airline, she never heard back so decided to let the cat out of the bag.

"The cat got to Chicago in plenty of time," she said. "He could have gone out for dinner!"

United Airlines told NBC it had apologised to Ms Wiegel, and it's not sure why the cat was given priority over her.