Frequent flier fears for future after midair incident

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by MONIKA DIAZ / WFAA-TV

wfaa.com

Posted on December 13, 2009 at 10:20 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 14 at 3:04 PM

John Reed keeps flying, but he wonders if an incident on board an American Airlines flight to Dallas will ground him — or even lead to federal charges.

"I have this hanging over my head for an indefinite period of time," he said. "I just need some closure."

Reed, who lives in California, received a federal warning for his alleged behavior on December 6 aboard Flight 614 from Sacramento to Dallas. The warning accused him of threatening, intimidating and/or interfering with a flight.

Reed was sitting in the first class section when he asked for a glass of orange juice during breakfast service — but he said he got more than OJ from one of the flight attendants.

"She launched into a one-minute tirade about how I should not be asking for orange juice at this time of her service," Reed recalled.

The situation didn't get any better.

According to Reed — who is an Executive Platinum member of American's frequent flier club — the flight attendant then asked him if it was his first time in first class.

"I told her that I flew all the time, and that this was a very condescending question; then she got even more upset," Reed said.

A North Texas man, Dave Koss, and his wife were sitting near Reed. He told News 8 the flight attendant seemed frustrated and upset even before the argument. He wrote a blog about his experience aboard Flight 614.

"The tension was pretty high, and we thought we just wanted to get off the plane," Koss said.

According to both passengers, the flight attendant then went up and down the aisle in first class, looking for witnesses to back her up, but no one came to her defense.

She then asked Reed to come up to the front galley for a private conversation, near the cockpit. He refused.

Minutes later, he was handed the warning.

"At first, I thought it was a joke," said Reed. "I thought, 'You can't be serious.'"

But when the flight landed, representatives from the airline were waiting at the gate to talk to Reed. Koss and at least five other passengers stayed behind to stand up for him. They all gave statements to the airline.

"We all wanted to help him out and just be a witness for him so that he didn't get into any trouble," Koss said.

But he fears that trouble might still follow him and that he might face federal charges or penalties. American Airlines called him five days after the incident.

"For the next several months, I am going to get on flights, wondering, am I being flagged? Is this particular flight attendant going to be on that flight?," Reed said. "I was told that this was a serious issue."

For Reed, an apology during the flight would have been enough to forget about his experience, but now he wants the flight attendant to be re-assigned and re-trained in customer service.

American Airlines would not comment, but a spokesman told News 8 the company is investigating.

E-mail mdiaz@wfaa.com

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