JetBlue flight attendant assaults elderly woman or vice versa? One of them is to pay fines

Imagine your grandmother (or mother) being grabbed by the arm and moved down a plane aisle by a flight attendant. Is the flight attendant being gentle and understanding? Respectful? Particularly since your grandmother is from another culture and has been in route for 30-hours. In the case of Talat Taharia, a woman from Pakistan, the Jet Blue flight attendant forcibly moved her from the exit aisle and made her sit next to someone she doesn’t know. Taharia, however is looking at a planeload of fines. Here’s why.

According to the flight attendant, she had Taharia move from the exit row 15 times and Taharia “yanked her down the aisle.” Taharia is countering with that’s impossible. After all, look at her.

From this article’s description, it seems that Taharia wasn’t just in the exit row seat, but stretched out in the exit row floor trying to catch some shut eye. Poor thing, she’d been traveling for 30 hours, after all. She was pooped and saw some space. Maybe she’s not that big, a bitty person actually, not even her big toe would get in the way of the drink cart, and figured what’s the harm?

Also, according to the flight attendant, When the flight attendant asked her to move, it was Taharia who became crabby and grabby. She actually assaulted the flight attendant. The flight attendant said she could have been arrested even.

Who is right? Who pushed and who pulled? How many times did Taharia lay her head on the plane’s floor looking for some peace and quiet? The FAA has just thrown a book of fines, to the tune of $6,000, at Taharia.

Here’s what I envision happening. A misunderstanding where both people were not patient enough. To Taharia, the exit seat was open, and so was the floor, therefore up for grabs. One can sleep wherever there’s a space on trains. Why not planes? I’m also wondering how well she understands English, particularly when rattled. Also, considering that she just left family in Pakistan, and it’s not the most stable place on the planet, her emotions may have already been on edge.

The flight attendant, doing her job, saw safety first, and may not have known a darned thing about elderly women originally from Pakistan which may have heightened the problem. Only people who can handle the job of being in an exit row in case there’s a disaster are supposed to sit in one of those seats. The elderly woman was showing she couldn’t take directions all that well. Still, why not take the time out to help the woman find a solution to wanting to get some sleep? Supposedly the flight from Pakistan to the U.S. wasn’t full. Offer a suggestion about laying down across seats if there is an empty row, and whatever you do, don’t put an older woman next to a person she doesn’t know.

Here’s a truth about human behavior, when pushed negatively, people respond–negatively. From what I read, these two needed a mediator. That day back in November was not good for either one of them. []

If you miss a flight because of a long check in line it can cost you money

If you’re one of those people who scoff at the two-hour a head of time check-in schedule recommended by airlines, check out this story that Christopher Elliot posted on his website, A woman showed up on Jan. 5, two hours and twenty minutes before her American Airlines flight from Orlando back to Japan, but the line was so slow that she was denied boarding by the time it was her turn. It cost her $2,600 more to get back to Japan because American Airlines originally said it was her problem, not theirs.

Since this happened, American Airlines, according to Elliot has agreed to send the woman a voucher for $2,600 for air travel. Although this a decent gesture, still she’s out the money.

While reading Elliot’s recounting of the woman’s tale where she describes telling the agent that she was afraid of missing her flight and the agent brushed her off, I’m wondering if getting riled up might have helped. After all, it seems as if the airline was not keeping up with their part of the bargain. About an hour before the flight, I might have really started to get pushy–a bit forceful. By that time, being sweetly polite would have been brushed aside.

I might be wrong, but from the way the situation was described, I’m picturing a mild, nice woman who is trying to be heard in a crowd. Depending on the nature of the staff person you’re dealing with, such a person often gets ignored. The person in the business suit with the no nonsense voice gets further.

There’s a balance between being forceful and going so far that you might have security on top of you, but if the airline doesn’t staff enough people to handle the volume, one has to have a voice loud enough to be reckoned with.

After reading the comments left on Elliot’s post, it seems that this is not an isolated instance. Some have suggested folks should arrive three hours before a flight to be safe, particularly on high volume travel days. I still don’t get why she just wasn’t put on the next available flight without any charges. Too bad there isn’t a time-card punch so you can prove exactly what time you arrived. Maybe that’s the next step.

By the way, because she was flying internationally, she couldn’t check in on her own at a kiosk so that wouldn’t have been a solution.

JetBlue flight attendant accused of sexually harassing a passenger

Here’s a sordid, wacky tale, and one that’s hard to believe, except that the person who is accused of gross behavior has admitted to part of the accusation.

Here is the scoop from what I read in this story. A male JetBlue flight attendant has been accused by a female passenger of sexual harassment.

She said:

  • he said he would make sure no one sat next to her so she could be all his.
  • he said that he wanted her.
  • he said that she wanted him.
  • he kept grabbing himself.
  • he tossed his open cell phone on her tray to show her naked pictures of himself .
  • he made vulgar comments to her through the bathroom door when she fled there to escape his advances.
  • he grabbed her derriere when she was heading back to her seat.

He said that:

  • he DID show her naked pictures of himself on his cell phone.
  • he DID MAKE sexual advances,

He said he DID NOT

  • grab her butt.
  • act in a harassing manner.

As a result of the woman coming forward with her accusations, the flight attendant was arrested for “obscene and indecent exposure” and for making “lewd, obscene and indecent sexual proposal.” JetBlue is still involved in the investigation of the he said/she said situation.

Even though the incident happened seven months ago, the woman said she was too scared to say something to any officials at the time of the incident. In retrospect, she admits saying something at the time of the incident would have been the best tactic.

If such a thing ever happens to you on a plane, which I would hope is a rare occurrence indeed, here is one thing I’ve thought of to say to a flight attendant (or anyone else) who is making comments you think are inappropriate:

“Sir (or Mam) you are being inappropriate. I do not like the way you are talking and behaving. If you do not stop immediately, I will notify the appropriate authorities.”

If the behavior continues, stand up, walk down the aisle to the appropriate person, tell him or her immediately what occurred. If you do not feel safe after taking action, ask for an escort after the plane lands. The woman said she did not feel safe. I’m wondering if she wasworried that he may do something rash after the plane landed. That’s why I would ask for an escort. I don’t know if you can get one, but why not ask?

There is no need to take on any bad feelings from a person who is acting like an idiot towards you.

Other troublemakers in the sky

Delta Airlines ordered to pay customer money for cancelled flight

Oh, it’s so satisfying when the little guy fights back and wins. I have no idea how big Mitchell Berns actually is, but he took on Delta Airlines in small claims court and won.

As the story goes, Delta canceled a flight that Mr. Berns was to take using bad weather as an excuse. When delays or cancellations are because of bad weather, airlines don’t have to cough up refunds. Delta’s solution was to book Berns on a red-eye flight which he refused to take. As he found out, the bad weather had yet to start. It wouldn’t be happening for hours later.

Pooh pooing Delta’s explanation, Berns booked a flight home on JetBlue and then filed the claim against Delta that was equal to the cost of the JetBlue ticket. That seems fair. It’s not like he was claiming pain and suffering. The court sided with Berns because no one from Delta showed up for the court appearance.

The moral of the story is to stick up for yourself when you can when it comes to travel. It’s almost like becoming a dog with a bone. I have my own dog with a bone story.

Once when I was flying from La Guardia to Albuquerque, I was bumped off the flight because the airline wanted to switch to a smaller plane. As I saw other people arrive after me be given seats, I complained. (This was when seats were assigned first come first serve at the airport.) The airline personel told me that the computer was randomly picking who would get on the flight. Ha!! That’s rich! I thought.

After refusing to leave and continuing to politely, but incessantly complain, the ticket counter person gave me a taxi voucher to go to John F. Kennedy Airport and rerouted me since there was a flight leaving from there that I could take. This allowed for me to make my connection in St. Louis and arrive in Albuquerque when I wanted to.

There is something about these small wins that gives one hope that ones well-being is important indeed.

Airlines oppose new state efforts towards Passenger Bill of Rights

The recent push for a federal Passenger Bill of Rights by the U.S. Senate was a welcomed breath of fresh air for fed-up travelers. Some states however feel that the federal legislation isn’t moving fast enough and have decided to take matters into their own hands.

In an attempt to speed up the process, lawmakers in New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Washington and Rhode Island are pursuing state legislation similar to what was just recently passed in New York in order to better provide for travelers.

But the airlines prefer federally regulated passenger protection in order to avoid confusion over rules set on a state to state basis. State governments are not taking the issue lightly, and on Tuesday representatives of Alaska Airlines got a hostile response when talking to Washington lawmakers. An excerpt:

Scott Jarvis, Vice President of Marketing for Alaska Airlines: “I would hope that competition would rule the day and bad apples would lose business if they’re delivering poor customer service.”

Ken Jacobsen, Democratic State Senator: “In the meantime, nine hours on the runway someone’s going to die.”

It’s pretty clear that the fight for passenger rights, be it at the state or the federal level, isn’t going to be easy. Better bring a sack lunch on your next flight just in case you risk those nine deadly hours.