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The 2019 American Airlines seat recline incident
American Airlines is being sued by a man named David Klein, who alleges he was wrongfully banned from future flights with the company after a flight in 2019, where he got into a “situation” with a flight attendant over seat recline. According to the lawsuit (so let me emphasize that this is the plaintiff’s version of events):
- On March 29, 2019, Klein and his wife boarded an American Airlines flight from Tokyo to Los Angeles
- Shortly after they were seated, a flight attendant told Klein to put his seat in the upright position
- Moments later, before Klein adjusted his seat, the flight attendant passed by again, leaned over, and began to press the seat adjustment button under his armrest
- Klein was surprised by someone making physical contact with him, so he “moved the flight attendant’s arm away and told her that he would adjust the seat himself,” which he immediately did
- The flight attendant left, and there was no further interaction between her and Klein
- Another flight attendant witnessed the incident and apologized to Klein for his colleague’s behavior, stating that she was “having a bad day”
Klein said he considered the matter closed and forgot about it, until…
How this seat recline situation turned into a lawsuit
In February 2022, Klein made reservations for himself and his wife to travel from Los Angeles to St. Maarten on American Airlines, for a friend’s 60th birthday celebration. Upon arrival at the airport and while checking their bags, the couple was surprised to find that they were not permitted to fly with American Airlines.
American Airlines allegedly refused to explain why he was banned, though he believes that it was related to this 2019 incident, and that the flight attendant “solely out of spite filed a report with the airline that falsely accused plaintiff of refusing to follow safety instructions.”
Klein had asked American Airlines to reinstate his right to travel with the airline, but didn’t receive an answer. Now he’s suing the airline, seeking compensatory damages as well as a court order allowing him to fly with American Airlines again. Klein claims that by not being allowed to fly with American Airlines, he cannot fly to certain destinations, and will incur higher costs and a loss of time by having to take flights on other airlines.
My take on this American Airlines ban story
This is one of those situations where I have to imagine that there’s more to the story. Obviously we’re getting details here through a lawsuit, so that only tells one side of the story. A few things stand out about this:
- The guy kind of sounds like a jerk; he didn’t follow the flight attendant’s instructions, and then physically grabbed her when she reclined the seat for him; if his version of the events is that he “moved the flight attendant’s arm,” I can’t help but wonder what really happened
- That being said, in order for a passenger to be banned over an inflight incident, they’d typically receive an official warning from the crew, and/or the airline would reach out to the customer and inform them that they’re banned
- I wonder if the other details are 100% accurate, like another flight attendant apologizing that a colleague was having a bad day, and that there was no other interaction between the flight attendant and passenger
- If there is a lot more to this story, then it seems silly to file a lawsuit, when that will presumably all come out
I’m curious to see how this lawsuit evolves, as I’m pretty confident that this isn’t just as described. And if it is as described, then at a minimum American failed horribly in communicating the ban to the traveler.
A man is suing American Airlines after finding out he was banned while trying to check-in for a flight in February 2022. He claims he was never informed that he was banned, and can only imagine that this involves a March 2019 incident, where he got into a bit of a disagreement with a flight attendant.
According to the traveler, he “moved” a flight attendant’s arm while she tried to put his seat upright for him. While that’s not appropriate, I have to imagine there was more to this in some way than what’s being presented.
What do you make of this lawsuit against American Airlines?