A 68-year-old woman spent three days in jail after Seattle cops dragged her off a United Airlines flight. Her crime? Moving to an empty seat.
Jean Mamakos had planned to be skiing in Alaska with the group she was traveling with and after changing planes in Seattle, the New Yorker was a step closer to doing so. After the flight attendant shut the door in preparation for takeoff, Mamakos took the opportunity to change seats and moved to an empty seat closer to the emergency exit. That’s when flight attendants flipped out and overreacted.
“One of the stewardesses said, ‘Oh no you don’t,’ which stopped me in my tracks,” Mamakos explained to KIRO. “So I went forward and another stewardess came along and said, ‘Give me your credit card.'”
Switching seats is considered an upgrade, and would have cost Mamakos an additional $109 on top of the thousands of dollars she paid for her round-trip cross-country flight. So, she went back to her original seat. Unbeknownst to her, the flight attendants were still making a fuss, and apparently, they tattled to the captain, who then announced that someone wanted to get off the plane.
“I heard the captain say there is a lady who wants to get off the plane on this flight,” Mamakos said. “So we have to wait. I didn’t know that was me.”
Like bouncers at an exclusive club, flight attendants trapped a confused Mamakos and informed her she was about to be removed from the flight over a simple misunderstanding. Of course, Mamakos didn’t want to be removed from the flight at all. She simply thought she could change seats and after being informed that it would cost her, she returned to the seat she paid for.
“‘You have to get off this plane,’ Mamakos reported the flight attendants saying. In response, Mamakos said “No, I paid for this seat, and I’m going to stay here.”
That’s when the Seattle cops were called in and a cell phone recording began.
On the video, an officer gives Mamakos two choices: “Do you want to come willingly or be arrested for trespass?” Mamakos replies, “Whatever you have to do.” The officer then drags Mamakos up the aisle and off the plane. She was booked and spent the next three days in a jail cell because it was the weekend and the the courts were not open for business. In short, it was humiliating.
As expected, Mamakos is now suing United Airlines for the way they treated her over something so ridiculous. In truth, she should also sue the Seattle police department for arresting her on false charges. Mamakos was on board the plane she belonged on and was in the seat she paid for. She wasn’t trespassing at all. In fact, she didn’t commit a single crime. This is not only a case of overreaction by the airline, it’s another case of police overreaction as well. Mamakos should never have been arrested or kicked off her flight. She should have been skiing with her friends in Alaska, but a flight crew and some police officers decided to ruin her travel plans. And they should have to pay dearly for the unnecessary hell they put her through.