Airlines that fly to Hawaii have had their share of unruly passenger incidents, including issues involving flight attendants. A lawsuit was filed this week that reminded us of those incidents. It made us wonder whether or not this issue was real. Editor Jeff had a similar experience. In 2019, a flight attendant threatened him for taking photos from his seat at a time when they claimed phones were not to be used.
In this recent case, a passenger on a flight (not to Hawaii) has sued American Airlines. The passenger says he was banned by the airline for reclining business-class seat. Really?
We all need to keep our cool at 30,000 feet!
Was it deemed by an American Airlines crew member that the passenger was interfering by not following instructions? If so, it can result in civil penalties and fines of up to $25,000. As we’ve said before, everyone keeping their cool at 30,000 feet is important and seems harder than ever to achieve.
We’ve suggested keeping one’s voice down and not losing tempers. Should an issue with a flight attendant occur, ask to talk with the first officer and do what you’re asked.
One flight attendant said, “You can’t call 911 at 38,000 feet, so we’re all you got. If we’re all you got, shouldn’t you be nice to us?”
When Jeff had an issue with the flight attendant about his photo taking, he put the phone away rather than risk a much worse incident. Jeff won’t be returning to that foreign airline, however.
Two serious Hawaii flight incidents involving crew occurred this summer.
In June, a Hawaiian Airlines passenger flying from New York to Honolulu allegedly tried to breach the A330’s cockpit. The passenger was restrained by the plane’s crew during the flight. A diversion wasn’t required since the plane was approaching Hawaii when the issue arose. We never learned the outcome of the incident, however.
Just a day before that one, an unruly passenger caused a flight diversion to Honolulu. In that case, the United Airlines flight from Tokyo to Los Angeles arrived in Honolulu when a disruptive passenger became physically abusive. That passenger was also restrained in flight, this time using zip ties.
And it was just one year ago that a 32-year-old man punched a Hawaiian Airlines flight attendant, causing the plane to divert to Honolulu. The plane was traveling interisland when the male crew member was struck in the chest, then hit on his head.
Previously, on another Hawaiian Airlines flight, the plane returned to HNL after an intoxicated passenger attempted to punch one of the flight attendants. The flight turned around 4 hours into the flight to Seoul due to the disruptive passenger. On return, the passenger was arrested.
Seat recline plaintiff says he’s been banned from American Airlines.
The plaintiff, David Klein, alleged this week in L.A. Superior Court that he is entitled to damages due to the incident, as well as due to being banned from future American Airlines flights. He claims that AA failed him by not having flight crews “properly trained in how to communicate with, and interact with, passengers.”
The incident occurred in 2019. Klein says that one of the flight attendants told him to place his business-class seat in an upright position. When the flight attendant returned, they adjusted the seat for him, by reaching over Klein and operating the recline button.
In the lawsuit, Klein states he was “Surprised at having a stranger make physical contact with him, plaintiff moved the flight attendant’s arm away and told her that he would adjust his seat himself, which he immediately did.”
The plaintiff said that was the end of the issue and that, coincidentally, another flight attendant subsequently apologized for the first flight attendant’s behavior, allegedly reporting to Klein that the other flight attendant was “having a bad day.”
How do you even know if you’re on an airline’s no-fly list?
Klein believed the incident to be behind him until he went to get on another flight, once again on American Airlines. When he arrived at LAX with his wife, however, he found at check-in for their flight that, “to their surprise and horror,” he had been banned from flying any longer on American Airlines as a result of the 2019 incident.
Without any communication from the airline, how would he have known not to buy a ticket on them? Could he have avoided the second incent somehow?
Kein stated that American Airlines has refused to explain the reason for his being on their no-fly list. He claims that the ban was based “solely out of spite.” The plaintiff claims the airline falsely accused him of refusing to follow safety instructions.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiff claims that he will now need to fly on other airlines, which will result in great cost to his travel and loss of his time. In the suit, he says he “has written to the airline to ask them to please reinstate his right to travel, however, he has not received any reply to his letter.”
Is there another side to this story?
We aren’t aware of many lawsuits by passengers for being banned from flights. Earlier this year, however, a Florida woman sued Southwest Airlines when she was forcefully disembarked from a flight for failure to comply with the then-in-force Covid mask mandate.