Words: Elise Solé
A man was thrown off of a Southwest Airlines flight for a joke about vodka, which was allegedly directed at a surly cabin crew member.
As first reported by Fox 40, the unnamed passenger was escorted off the Wednesday flight from Sacramento, Calif., to Austin, Texas, for making a joke after a long delay that made the cabin and crew annoyed and restless.
Peter Uzelac and his wife sat on either side of the unnamed passenger while the crew attended to a blinking light in the cockpit.
“We returned to the gate to wait for maintenance and to refuel, and then waited for clearance from air traffic control —in all, we were delayed by three to four hours,” Uzelac, 70, tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
When a young flight attendant distributed water, Uzelac says the man seated next to him joked, “Wow, I hope that’s vodka because we’ve been sitting here for so long.”
According to Uzelac, the attendant replied brusquely, “Yeah, it’s vodka” and when she moved to another row, the man joked, “Hey, this isn’t vodka.”
The employee allegedly returned to Uzelac’s row to confront the passenger, but Uzelac’s wife spoke up. “She said something like, ‘We’re all tired here. And that’s no way to speak to a passenger,’” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
“They argued about it. I tried filming but my phone wasn’t working.”
The flight attendant allegedly walked to the front of the plane, made a phone call, and then suddenly, the plane taxied back to the terminal. Once parked, three deputies from the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department walked onboard.
A police spokesperson didn’t return Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment, but Uzelac says two officers escorted the man off the plane despite his threats to sue the airline. A third officer stayed behind.
“I stood up and told the officer that the flight attendant started all the trouble and other people shouted that the man did nothing wrong,” Uzelac tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
According to Uzelac, the flight attendant sat out her shift on the connecting flight to Los Angeles but resumed her post on the Austin leg. “When I walked off the plane, she stood next to the pilot and smirked at me,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
Vexing to Uzelac are rumours that the passenger was unruly. “If anyone was unruly, it was me,” he admits. “I feel bad for the guy — he should sue the airline.” Uzelac himself filed a formal complaint with the carrier.
“Flying is almost scary because you don’t know who you’re going to anger,” he says. “You can’t say anything to anyone.”
A Southwest Airlines representative tells Yahoo Lifestyle: “We regret any less-than-positive experience a Customer has onboard our aircraft.
“We welcome over 100 million Customers each year, and we aim to maintain the comfort of all while delivering Southwest Hospitality. We will share this report with our Customer Relations Team.”