Wild Story Of Stolen Phone On American Airlines Flight

Wild Story Of Stolen Phone On American Airlines Flight

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A Twitter thread about a TV writer’s recent American Airlines flight is getting quite a bit of attention. It’s such a wild story that I’m not even sure what to make of it.

A shocking must-read airplane story

Chase Mitchell, who is allegedly a writer for The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, was flying yesterday from Los Angeles to Philadelphia on American Airlines (I’m guessing it was flight AA596, based on the timing of the Tweets).

His reporting of this flight started off innocently enough, as he Tweeted about how someone tried to get him to swap his aisle seat for a middle seat, so the man could sit next to his wife (as they were both assigned middle seats).

He then mentions how the guy was watching stuff on his phone at full volume without headphones. What was he watching? “Just really loud footage of trumpets.”

So how do we go from that to an incident that eventually leads to a phone being stolen and authorities getting involved? Here’s the rest of the Twitter thread (which I’m just going to copy & paste, since I don’t feel like this can otherwise be concisely summarized):

  • He and his wife (oh by the way, Window never showed up, so she’s sitting in here too) are three rum and waters in. Not like they’re mixing rum and water, like they’re shooting mini bottles of rum and chasing it with water, and complaining about the airline’s headphone policy
  • I’m gonna need like a day to decompress from this before I talk about the insane sh*t that happened AFTER this, but… this experience ended with the guy stealing my phone and being taken off the plane
  • Alright f*ck it I’m waiting on an Uber so I’ll start. Some context – I flew LAX to Philly for a friend’s wedding. American Airlines. I didn’t bring my laptop, so my phone is all I have – numbers, my hotel reservation, the NAME of my hotel, everything. That will be important later
  • Then all that sh*t above happened. I’m thinking, these are the worst people I’ve ever flown w/, but w/e. I’m being polite (while tweeting about it). I’m watching Scream. Meanwhile like I said they’re both 3-4 rums deep. I notice he starts having outbursts, yelling “f*ck,” etc
  • This is one of those planes w/o screens behind the seats, so I’m watching the movie on my phone. I notice they’re both kinda weird about it – she asks how I have the internet, like she’s unfamiliar with plane Wifi. Whatever, they’re both older, I don’t think much of it
  • Back half of the flight, he’s having more outbursts, Yelling “F*ck! I feel sick!” and stuff. He needs to get up and out of there VERY fast, so I get out of his way. After a long time, he comes back to his seat. Right when we’re all back situated, he IMMEDIATELY needs to go again
  • Each time I’m standing up to let him out, I’m making sure to unhook my phone from the seatback and put it back in my pocket. Meanwhile, these people have annoyed the f*ck out of me in every different way, but they keep saying sorry and I keep saying “it’s fine, no worries”
  • Every time he sits back down, he’s really performative a/b how sick he is – keeps yelling “I THREW UP 3 TIMES” and sh*t. Finally, closer to landing, he needs to go a THIRD time. This time he’s straight up rude about it, like, “I GOTTA GO NOW, GET THE F*CK OUT OF THE WAY”
  • This time was so urgent and violent I had to get up without having time to think about it, and when I sit back down, I can’t find my phone.
  • So anyway while he’s gone again I am looking EVERYWHERE – I literally just had it. I feel around under the seats, pull the cushions apart, etc. I ask his wife if she’s seen a phone – no answer. I figure she didn’t hear me, ask again. No answer
  • This is around when it dawns on me 1) how absolutely f*cked I would be without it, how few numbers I know anymore (like I said, I didn’t even commit to memory the name of my hotel) and, 2)… I think that f*cking guy took it?? It feels like an INSANE accusation to even think of
  • I start panicking and go talk to the flight attendants. First we’re just commiserating about the couple – they’ve been putting up with their sh*t too – and one of the FAs casually says, “Yeah the guy told me he thought you were like, using your phone to plan something. He’s nuts”
  • This by the way, is so weird. Other than needing to urgently run to the bathroom and yelling a little, he has not been outwardly hostile to me at this point. Like I said, he was apologizing for getting up so much, and in fact, I’d just taken their picture for them w/*their* phone
  • So what that FA tells me is WILD. I tell him, “well that’s really interesting because I cannot find my phone anywhere.” I hesitate to make an accusation – like I said, it still feels like an insane thing to think happened. They both go check the seat with flashlights. Nothing.
  • Another passenger who didn’t hear our conversation discreetly sidles up to me and says he SAW the guy yank the phone out of the seat on his way to the bathroom. Now I realize how long the guy has been in there this time, and I’m like, “F*ck”
  • My mind is jumping to even crazier places – that dude has my phone (now, I’m sure), and now it’s more like “What the f*ck is he doing in there with it.” I start worrying he’s trying to flush it, or cram it in a trash can, or just f*cking smash it. I mean WHAT IS HIS PLAN
  • He finally leaves the bathroom and goes back to his seat. And the FAs and I are looking at each other like “Well what now.” One of them says, “…you could… ask him?” Sounds like a bad plan! They ask if I have an Apple Watch. I don’t. But I do have my AirPods
  • I realize if I put them in my ears and the phone is close by (and, please for the love of god, still working), I’ll hear the sound it makes when they connect. So I put them in… and they do
  • So all that’s left to do now is ask the guy. The FAs approach him first, and he denies it, plays dumb, pulls out his phone and says it’s all he’s got on him. So, with pretty much nothing left to do, I sit down back next to him, and I ask him myself
  • He again, denies it, a little more frantically this time. Without naming or pointing out the other passenger who told me, I tell him that someone told me they saw him do it. He demands to know who. I realize this may have been the wrong approach
  • By now everyone around us knows what’s going on, and that’s not helping either, because it’s hitting the conspiracy part of his brain. He starts thinking there’s some plot afoot. Next to me, very quietly, a dude I am very sure is an air marshall says, “I can help if I need to”
  • So he starts pointing to various people and accusing them of being in on it. He says the air marshall’s bag has been flashing green (it has not) and that I’ve been sending signals out from my phone the whole flight (he’s still not admitted having it – a slight flaw in his logic)
  • So basically we’re at a standstill – I’m still panicking where and in what state my phone it is – and quietly it’s made clear to me that this guy will be escorted off and patted down when we land. Also, in all of this – we’re about to land and… I gotta find a new place to sit
  • So i sit next to a very nice man several rows up who’s basically like “hey, what’s goin on back there?” Like dude, not now. I sit through the most intense landing of my life. And I have this intrusive thought: what if the f*cking lights come on and it’s under my seat or some sh*t
  • LUCKILY, that does not happen. The man is taken off, and then a few minutes later, another air marshall or cop-adjacent guy comes on and asks me to come to. I’m like “Sh*t, am I… in trouble too somehow?”
  • I get out to the jetway, and the guy is standing there, and now he’s changed his tune from “I didn’t take it,” to, “If you check his phone, it will tell you everything.” They ask him to empty his pockets, he does, and I immediately, blissfully, see my Lock Screen flash on
  • They (being thorough) are like, “Can you unlock it?” and I’m like “well as a matter of fact my literal face does that.” I do, it does, they hand it back. He keeps demanding they check it for… spy stuff I guess? They obviously do not. All they would’ve seen is the end of Scream
  • They ask me if I wanna press charges. I don’t – I think the guy is unwell despite the fact that he has really really f*ckin annoyed me tonight and he needs to drink less rum on airplanes. I hope him his wife had a terrible ride home.
American Airlines Airbus A321neo

I don’t even know what to make of this story?

It’s rare that I’m at a loss for words, but this is a story where… I’m at a loss for words. We hear of a lot of wild airplane stories, but this is one of the wildest. Let me try to take a crack at it.

Assuming everything in this story is as presented, it sounds like the guy who stole the phone might have some issues beyond just being drunk. That’s of course no excuse for stealing someone’s phone, but I’m just saying, this seems to go beyond “standard” drunk behavior.

While I don’t want to cast any doubt on this story, it does almost seem too perfect. You have a TV writer who casually Tweets about a strange seatmate situation, says he won’t make a thread about the seatmate situation, and then proceeds to have the most bizarre seatmate story ever, resulting in a viral Twitter thread.

There are a lot of things about this story that collectively surprise me:

  • It’s weird that the couple is confused by the guy watching a movie on his phone while the guy who stole the phone was allegedly watching videos on his phone without headphones
  • I know many in the miles & points world focus on every detail of travel planning, but do many people really not remember what hotel they booked in a city on the day they’re traveling?
  • I wonder how the couple got three alcoholic drinks each, since that seems like more than American flight attendants would typically serve someone during a beverage service
  • Air marshals are fairly rare nowadays, so it’s quite a coincidence that one just happened to be seated near him
  • I’m surprised by the interaction that happened on the jet bridge, and that it just happened to be that the two air marshals (or… something?) were questioning the guy, and then got him his phone back

None of this is to say that the story isn’t real. It just almost seems too perfect. Then again, some may recall a story in early 2020 where a TV producer had an unbelievably strange mileage run to Mexico, and that turned out to be true.

This wasn’t your run of the mill flight…

Bottom line

What started as an amusing Tweet ended with a man allegedly having his phone stolen by a seatmate on an American Airlines flight. This is a very strange story, no matter how you slice it, and I’m not sure what to think… other than “wow.”

What do you make of this story?

(Tip of the hat to @pir8z40)

Conversations (46)
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  1. GO BIRDS! Guest

    I can 100% attest to this being a true story. I was seated on the flight, a few rows ahead of them in the opposite aisle. The writer ended up switching seats and moving ahead of me. It was beyond insane, but 100% true.

  2. Chris Guest

    An air Marshall is not going to intervene or blow cover over a stolen phone.

  3. Kelley Guest

    Honestly I'd file charges - it might be the push this guy needs to get some help, or at least, to remind him that stealing other people's belongings is wrong.

  4. iamhere Guest

    I think it is a bit over the top when retold.
    It is also a bit odd that he purposely dealt with the phone each time he had to get up except for once or twice when the incident happened.
    In fact if I was next to the couple I would probably ask to be re-seated just to avoid any possible issues.
    Perhaps they were not drinking just on board but beforehand...

    I think it is a bit over the top when retold.
    It is also a bit odd that he purposely dealt with the phone each time he had to get up except for once or twice when the incident happened.
    In fact if I was next to the couple I would probably ask to be re-seated just to avoid any possible issues.
    Perhaps they were not drinking just on board but beforehand especially if they had lounge access.
    Problem is drunk and some odd incidents are fairly common on AMERICAN carriers these days. Note it is rare for foreign carriers.

  5. 37000 feet Guest

    It didn’t make the news? No phone recordings? Everyone is quick to grab their phones to record outbursts… I don’t know. This smells like a fictional story. But an interesting one

  6. Notbad41 Guest

    YouTube bill burr “why you going to indianapolis”

  7. tipsyinmadras Diamond

    Chase is a writer - I’ve followed him on twitter for a long time, he’s hilarious. Yeah he writes but making shit up isn’t his m.o. - so no reason to think this isn’t true - passengers being ape-shit crazy has become far too common.

  8. Widerightv New Member

    Let me get this straight:
    Chase Mitchell is a writer... for Jimmy Kimmel none the less.
    An event like this happens to him.
    Now he's crying about this.
    Chase, baby! You're a writer for Kimmel. You've got connections! One of the greatest story-lines for a script for anything from a cheesy network comedy show to a full feature distributed nationally is waiting.
    Start writing Chase baby; you've got the potential...

    Let me get this straight:
    Chase Mitchell is a writer... for Jimmy Kimmel none the less.
    An event like this happens to him.
    Now he's crying about this.
    Chase, baby! You're a writer for Kimmel. You've got connections! One of the greatest story-lines for a script for anything from a cheesy network comedy show to a full feature distributed nationally is waiting.
    Start writing Chase baby; you've got the potential for a successful project.
    Let me give you some actor ideas:
    You (Chase Mitchell): A Bob Newhart type
    Drunk guy: A John Belushi type
    Drunk guy's wife: Gilda Radner in Emily Litella character.

  9. Dave Guest

    I just find it very difficult to believe that anyone in 2022 would choose to watch Scream

    1. Mike R Guest

      The 2022 remake? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scream_(2022_film)

  10. James Guest

    Not vouching for the story, but the part about not knowing the hotel tracks. I even went to the wrong hotel (same hotel group at least) on a recent business trip. After they couldn't find my name at check-in, they suggested it might be another one a mile away (which it was).

  11. CHRIS Guest

    This is obvious all the fault of Donald Trump and/or climate change.
    Ever notice how this stuff always happens to people in showbiz or that are social media "influencers"?

  12. chasgoose Guest

    On the hotel thing, a lot of big cities have more than one hotel from the same brand (Philly has 3 or 4 Hiltons last time I checked). Also, he was going to a wedding where you typically just stay wherever the couple gets a discount for guests and don't think too much about it. Even though I typically like to pick my hotel, staying at the designated "wedding" hotel makes a lot of the logistics easier.

  13. DenB Diamond

    I have no trouble believing the man's account. The amount of mental health trouble in the world has increased a lot since the pandemic began. I have people in my life whose daily behaviour is worse than that of the guy in this story. Three years ago, I might have been skeptical. Now it rings true. Sad

  14. Seat 14A Guest

    In a recent AA flight from DFW to SFO a young lady boarded the flight already drunk and was taking things from people's under seat bags when they would get up to use the bathroom. Police meet the plane and took her off before the test of us were allowed the exit.

    1. Nina Guest

      So sad. Sticky fingers even on the plane?! They just haven’t found the right person who would back hand them on sight! Just mannerless.

  15. TomLV Guest

    My folks live in The Villages, and I fly in and out of Orlando quite a bit, and if I have a morning flight home, I'll stay in Orlando the night before, and routinely don't remember which hotel I'm staying at until I check my phone on the drive down (as I will book whichever mildly respectable Marriott/Hilton/Hyatt needs the least points). So... I can vouch for that bit of his story.

  16. D3kingg Guest

    Sorry to hear that happened to this person even if it’s some little sob story. You really need to keep your guard up around other passengers and people in general. Everyone likes gossip so it’s a good story that worked out in the end I suppose.

  17. 9volt Member

    He said he was going to a friend's wedding. So it's possible his friend (or someone else in the wedding party) booked the hotel on his behalf, maybe as part of a group rate. If so, it's certainly possible he had no "investment" in the hotel and was just going to check his email when he landed.

    1. Icarus Guest

      What an absolute world of stupidity we live in. Sensible people would check where they are staying before travelling.

    2. redlilly Guest

      Not really stupid - actually. Some people don't even book accommodation until they arrive at their destination. I am off to Montenegro next week and that's my plan. I'll just show up in the morning off the flight, hire the car, drive in the general direction of the town I think I will like to stay in and book accommodation when I get there.

      It's called living with the moment and also being spontaneous.

    3. Nina Guest

      Lol Stupid? Sensible? @Icarus things like that happen. We often, shockingly, turn off our ‘sensible and smart’ side of our brain when we’re travelling. Shit happens even if you’ve checked all the boxes and prepared for every potential screw up. SMH

    4. Nina Guest

      Stupid? Sensible? @Icarus things like that happen. We often, shockingly, turn off our ‘sensible and smart’ side of our brain when we’re travelling. Shit happens even if you’ve checked all the boxes and prepared for every potential screw up. SMH

  18. Michael Guest

    So which is more likely: 1) people do bizarre things on planes or 2) someone decides to make up a Twitter thread for...kicks? Personally, I'm going with #1.

  19. Dave Guest

    He or the airline should’ve pressed charges. That kind of sh-t is way too disruptive to safe aircraft operation and, by not pressing charges, this guy is now free to do the exact same sh-t on another flight.

  20. Icarus Guest

    I got bored after the first few lines.

    People use Twitter to write a short novel nowadays, rather than being concise and to the point. Also badly written, full of expletives.

    Yawn

  21. Grey Gold

    The not knowing hotel thing is not at all uncommon for business travellers. Even for leisure travellers. I mean, your partner is a travel agent, just ask him. Some people really don't really care about any of that, they just want it all taken care of and they just go where they are told.

    1. cls Guest

      True. My husband has been so clued out about our travel plans that not only does he never know the name of our hotels, on one trip he told the border agent that we were going to a different city than where we really were going. He just doesn't care and leaves it to me to do all the planning.

  22. Not Street Guest

    The first person narrator voice is hilarious. Our narrator is so faux "street" and yet so middle class articulate. In addition, that they are a self-identified professional writer and that no formal charges were made (no official records) makes my street narrator voice say "this is a bunch of s***.

  23. George Romey Guest

    Reminds me again how trashy the human race has become and while pigs don't fly trash now does. I would have pressed charges in a New York minute.

  24. Samuel Guest

    This is why my wife and I always fly first class.

    1. tipsyinmadras Diamond

      What, like crazy people only fly economy? Do you even read this site? Ben has documented plenty issues with passengers up front too.

  25. Donna Diamond

    I’m on the fence with this tale, however, I was on a flight to Paris in 2019 and a woman seated a few rows up in business class claimed her passport was stolen when she left it on the seat after going to the lavatory prior to landing. We were all questioned but not searched. I don’t know how that ended up but apparently theft of stuff on planes, though rare, happens.

    1. Jay Guest

      I was on a ORD-FRA this Spring and I am 99% certain the (apparently) nice lady next to me tried to nick a $15 plastic thingy that hooks the phone to the seat. It wouldn't break the bank, but it was mine... There was no much to do on the long flight so I searched and searched and searched. After a while Ms. Nice 'realized' that the thing was underneath her blanket, which at that...

      I was on a ORD-FRA this Spring and I am 99% certain the (apparently) nice lady next to me tried to nick a $15 plastic thingy that hooks the phone to the seat. It wouldn't break the bank, but it was mine... There was no much to do on the long flight so I searched and searched and searched. After a while Ms. Nice 'realized' that the thing was underneath her blanket, which at that point on the flight was already in the floor. She was seating window, I was aisle and the middle seat was empty. There is no chance that the thingy ended up there by itself. No way.

      Plot twist, I was feeling entirely normal at boarding but I was one of the very few people in the flight wearing a mask the whole time. I started feeling bad as the flight progressed and I ended up testing positive for Covid after arriving to FRA. During the usual, beginning of flight chit chat, Ms. Nice was adamantly clear that she is not one for masks or other stupid restrictions to freedom ;)

  26. Sonofdad New Member

    If most of it was untrue, I would think he would be called out on it. But it sounds like lots of fabricated BS in the story like not knowing what hotel he was staying at and the conversations with others on his flight.

  27. Never In Doubt Guest

    I feel like I’m always calling bs on stories like these, but not this one. This rings true.

    1. Jimmy’s Travel Report Diamond

      Agree, a lot of random tidbits for a “made up” story.

  28. Nomad_dc Guest

    “ Air marshals are fairly rare nowadays” that sound very matter of fact. Would you care to share your source?

  29. Adam Guest

    It’s these people that have a fear of flying and think it’s okay to mix lots of alcohol with anti anxiety medication. Pick one please.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      Doctors got to stop prescribing them.
      I make a lot of money for doctors, hospitals, and insurance. Basically everyone but the patient.

    2. Foo blah Guest

      @eskimo
      You better cut back on the pills, your comment makes no sense.

    3. Dr foo blah Guest

      Both would just put them to sleep. They are both depressants.

  30. Jimmy’s Travel Report Diamond

    Before I was in the “hobby” and I would travel for business I would frequently not think which hotel I was staying in, just checking it after landing. It just didn’t matter in those days. That I could believe.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Jimmy’s Travel Report Diamond

Before I was in the “hobby” and I would travel for business I would frequently not think which hotel I was staying in, just checking it after landing. It just didn’t matter in those days. That I could believe.

6
Dave Guest

He or the airline should’ve pressed charges. That kind of sh-t is way too disruptive to safe aircraft operation and, by not pressing charges, this guy is now free to do the exact same sh-t on another flight.

5
Donna Diamond

I’m on the fence with this tale, however, I was on a flight to Paris in 2019 and a woman seated a few rows up in business class claimed her passport was stolen when she left it on the seat after going to the lavatory prior to landing. We were all questioned but not searched. I don’t know how that ended up but apparently theft of stuff on planes, though rare, happens.

3
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