Learning to fly…. out the door

November 21, 2006

Interesting report from ABC News concerning the new found power of air flight attendants using the Patriot Act to control customers.


Although it usually covers serious criminal activity, the Patriot Act can apply to minor infractions on flights. “You can’t make any threatening gesture to an attendant, because it does violate the Patriot Act,” explains [Charles Slepian, an aviation security expert]. “They don’t want you getting out of your seat except to go the lavatory. The whole idea is to keep control. If you react to the attendant, you’re going to get locked up.”

The latest example of high-altitude hijinks was the arrest of a couple for violating the Patriot Act by snuggling and kissing inappropriately. On a recent Southwest Airlines flight from Los Angeles, Carl Persing and Dawn Sewell, an unmarried couple, were “making other passengers uncomfortable” with his face pressed against her vaginal area, according to an FBI indictment. When a flight attendant gave them a second warning, Persing snapped back in anger and the couple, both in their early 40s, were arrested when the plane reached its destination in Raleigh, N.C.

Charged with obstructing a flight attendant and with criminal association, Persing and Sewell have been placed under legal surveillance until their trial in February, at which time they could be sent to jail for up to 20 years. The couple’s lawyer claims that Persing had his head in Sewell’s lap because he wasn’t feeling well and that the flight attendant had humiliated and harassed them.

But this isn’t the only example. A woman has been removed from her flight for breastfeeding:

Emily Gillette claims that she was kicked off a plane last month for nursing her baby on a flight between Burlington, Vt., and New York City. A spokesman for Freedom Airlines, which was operating the Delta commuter flight, says that Gillette was ejected because she declined an attendant’s offer of a blanket.

A man for having to go pee:

One passenger on a Delta flight from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City was arrested for leaving his seat to go to the lavatory less than 30 minutes before landing (due to the incident, air marshals ordered all passengers to put their hands on their heads for the rest of the flight).

And another man for praying:

And an Orthodox Jewish man was kicked off an Air Canada flight for praying, which attendants claim was making other passengers nervous.

Wow. You try to stop me from going to the bathroom when I gotta go and you may have a worse problem.

Flight attendants have taken shit for years from abusive customers, but this seems like a bit of vengeful over-indulgence.

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