Controversy was sparked last Tuesday when a man’s anime body pillow was forcibly removed from an overbooked United Airlines flight. Brandon Martin, who had purchased two seats in advance for his flight to San Jose, was shocked when United flight attendants suddenly asked him to remove “that cartoon pillow” from the adjacent seat. When Martin apparently refused the requests from the flight attendants, the scene quickly escalated.
The flight had reportedly been overbooked due to a computer error earlier in the day causing United to not have enough seats to transport some of its flight staff to the San Jose International Airport for work the next day. United Airlines initially began asking for volunteers to give up their seats. When no one came forward, staff then turned their attention towards the pillow.
“I had already purchased two tickets in advance, there was no reason for me to give up that seat,” Martin stated while sitting next to the Rin Tohsaka pillow involved in the incident. “It doesn’t matter if she’s not real (yet), she’s important to me and I have the right to use the two seats I purchased in any way I choose. The fact that they chose my seat out of all of them is clearly 2D discrimination. They could have randomly picked anyone else, but I was clearly the target.”
Eye witnesses state that Martin refused to move the pillow after multiple requests from flight staff. Martin tone reportedly became more belligerent and airport security was called to escort him and his stuffed companion off of the plane. When Martin continued to refuse, passengers claim that security forcibly removed the body pillow from the seat and began dragging it off the plane. Martin, who clung to the pillow in the process, was dragged through the center aisle while shouting what other passengers describe sounding like obscenities in another language.
Martin says that he is filing for damages done to the cover of his dakimakura sustained during the struggle, which he calls “the soiling of best girl.” United Airlines responded, claiming it was well within reason to remove any object or passenger it deems as disruptive as stated in the company’s passenger flight agreement. The incident is the second to involve otaku and airlines in the last few months including an incident that occurred in July between Southwest Airlines and a man wearing a Strike Witches T-shirt.