Doctor Flying Southwest Tries To Go To Bathroom, Ends Up In Jail

A 65-year-old urologist, born in India but living in the United States for 38 years now, was flying from his home in Missouri to a medical convention in Las Vegas on June 26th, 2008. Did you notice that “born in India” detail? Apparently his attempts to go to the bathroom angered and frightened a flight attendant, who wouldn’t tell Dr. Sivaprasad Madduri why he couldn’t use the lavatory (the pilot was using it) and who wouldn’t listen to Dr. Madduri’s explanation that he was taking a medicine that acts as a diuretic. When the plane landed he was arrested, spent the night in jail, and was told the next day to plead guilty and pay $2500 if he wanted a quick resolution.

Southwest has since told Dr. Madduri, “We don’t want this experience to affect your feelings about flying with us in the future,” and they’ve offered him a $100 voucher. It turns out the “apology” was meant for the other passengers, and was in fact about Dr. Madduri.

From Rediff:

Ironically, even before he filed his complaint with the Southwest Airlines officials, he got a letter from Frederick Taylor Jr, senior manager at the airline’s customer service communications, offering a $100 voucher for a future flight.

“Sometimes, an explanation for the reason why things happen is not always possible, and the bizarre behaviour of the individual during your June 26 flight to Las Vegas supports this point,” Taylor said in a letter accompanying the voucher. “While I am unable to explain the circumstances surrounding the disruption, I think it is important to offer my heartfelt apologies for any concerns you may have had as a result of this event”.

“Naturally, we don’t want this experience to affect your feelings about flying with us in the future, or for it to be your last recollection of traveling with our company. In fact we would consider it a privilege if you gave us another opportunity to provide you with better memories.”

Here’s Dr. Madduri’s story in his own words:

[I am] a physician from India who immigrated to the United States 38 years ago and [has] been in private practice in South East Missouri for more than a quarter century.

On June 26, 2008, I traveled from St Louis to Las Vegas to attend AAPI annual convention by Southwest flight 1226. Two hours into the flight, I tried to go to the bathroom ( I take a blood pressure medicine with diuretic that makes one ‘go’ more often). As I was sitting in row six, I walked to the front lavatory. The flight attendant, named Lora Lee Minton, abruptly stopped me and essentially shouted at me, “Go back! This bath room is occupied, and you cannot stand here.”

Shocked and dumbfounded at this unfriendly behavior, I went back and sat in my seat. Two minutes later, I saw the lavatory door opening and I got up and walked towards the bath room again. The same flight attendant (Lora Lee Minton) screamed at me, “I told you not to go to that bathroom,” and started pushing me into my seat. I was totally confused at this erratic behavior, and told her that I had been taking medicine and I had to go to the toilet. I even tried to walk past Ms.Minton as I was very uncomfortable.

“I told you not to go,” she pushed me into my seat! I was lost. I flew many times but had never experienced a rude and unfriendly behavior like this. Confused and not knowing what to do, I went back and sat in my seat. I saw the pilot came out of the lavatory, walked into the cockpit and closed the door behind him. Later I could use the bathroom.

The sequence of events that followed were more frightening and beyond the scope of any one’s imagination. As the plane landed in Las Vegas , I was escorted by two police officers and was handed over to the FBI. The FBI interrogated me at length and for the first time, I was told that the flight attendant, Ms.Lora Lee Minton, reported that I was causing ‘disturbance’ during the flight. I was also told that when the pilot is out of the cockpit, no one is supposed get up from their seat, till the pilot goes back to his seat. This apparently is a federal law being enforced since 9/11 and no one ever told me, nor was it announced during the flight.

That night I was taken through federal centers for further investigation. I was hand-cuffed, finger printed and was ‘processed’ as a common criminal. I was told repeatedly that my background was checked and I had no criminal record. Even after checking my back ground and even after confirming it by calling my family members (Our two children that live in St Louis and Houston, Texas ) and my professional partner (urologist from Poplar Bluff, Missouri ), I still had to go through the harassment. I was dragged through Federal court buildings that night with hand and ankle cuffs, left in cells for hours before I was interrogated and was threatened repeatedly with abusive language: ‘Shut up,’ ‘I am going to kick your ass,’ to name a few. Finally I was taken to a federal detention center in Las Vegas and was ushered into a large jail cell! I spent the night in jail with 43 prisoners – most of them drug dealers and picked up at street fights!

The next day I went through processing in a federal court building and presented in front of a Federal Judge. The public defender told me that my ‘case’ was decided and I would be released if I pleaded guilty and paid a fine of $2,500. He also told me that I could refuse to plead guilty, contest the judgment and even could win, but could be taking a long time, cost more and might result in multiple trips to Las Vegas.

Exhausted, depressed and completely deflated, I agreed to what ever the public defender suggested and got out after 24 hours of ‘living hell’.

I endured the most horrifying and traumatic 24-hours of my life for a crime I sincerely believe I did not commit. A simple statement by the flight attendant (Lora Lee Minton) in normal tone of voice that I was not supposed to wait in front of the toilet when it was occupied by the pilot, would have saved the ghastly ordeal.

I was told repeatedly by the prison guards, some of the FBI officials (not all of them were rude), the prison inmates who heard my story that the reason I was targeted was because of my skin color (brown) and ethnic background (South Asian, Indian).

When I returned home, I did not feel like lying flat and take the abuse, more so the incident involved not only me but an entire race and ethnic group. I sent my story to local, state and national news papers including all the major Indian news publications. The response was overwhelming: the news papers were very receptive; I received numerous e-mails, letters, phone-calls, sympathy and supportive cards; every one wanted me to ‘fight-it-out’ and ‘not to keep quite and do nothing.’

I did send my story to ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) of Missouri and Nevada , yet I haven’t heard from them yet, though I was told that my experience had merit. I contacted attorneys locally as well as in St Louis and was told that they were looking for proper attorneys that specialize in civil liberties cases; I was told by some that I should not have pleaded guilty and should find eye-witnesses that would testify in my favor.

During 30 years of my stay in America , I never felt so threatened nor my rights so violated as I did that fateful night. ‘You are not guilty until proven otherwise’, the anthem we are made to believe all the time was turned out to be not true; I was guilty until prove my self innocent. I was treated like a guilty person and was never given a chance even to tell my side of the story. Even after the incidence, I am finding it difficult to prove my innocence. I want Southwest Air Lines to realize their mistake and drop charges against me. I did contact Southwest airlines and was informed that they were standing by their stewardess and the issue had no racial profile or bias.

(Thanks to Ashish!)
(Photo: Cubbie_n_Vegas)

Comments

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  1. BeeBoo says:

    He can probably get out of the guilty plea because of the way he was threatened and abused.

  2. Jevia says:

    I hope he gets a good lawyer that can expunge the guilty plea and get him a good settlement from SWA.

    • Corporate_guy says:

      @Fist-o: The problem is that they give the benefit of the doubt to the flight attendant as if he or she is a police officer. And that the flight attendant is forced to do nothing extra to get someone in trouble. They need to force a flight attendant to give a sworn testimony before charges can be filed. That way when it’s proven to be a lie, the attendant actually faces a punishment.

      • timmus says:

        @Corporate_guy: They need to force a flight attendant to give a sworn testimony before charges can be filed. That way when it’s proven to be a lie, the attendant actually faces a punishment.

        Hear hear!!

  3. Mfalconieri says:

    Lora Lee is a bitch…or c*&t if you prefer as I do.

    • P_Smith says:

      @Mfalconieri: Lora Lee is a bitch…or c*&t if you prefer as I do.

      John McCain prefers also it when referring to his wife.

      I find it amazing in this day and age that people can’t tell the difference between South Asian and Arab people just by looking at them, or at least by talking; I can tell the difference between Indian and Pakistani accents, and I’m certainly no expert. If someone is going to start racial profiling, they should at least note differences other than brown skin.

      And don’t the stewardesses have flight manifests of the passengers on board? If the bimbo had read the man’s name on paper she would know right away that he’s of Indian descent and a US citizen…unless, of course, she’s a typically uneducated moron who doesn’t know anything outside her own borders, which should be shameful considering her job.

      • randomangela47 says:

        @P_Smith: OK, so first of all, you sound like you’re suggesting that the behavior would have been vaguely appropriate if the victim were Arabic instead of South Indian? Hello, bigoted much?

        I don’t care whether the passenger just came over from Iraq or Iran yesterday, he deserved to be treated with respect. The first response should have been “Please stay in your seat for just a few minutes as a security precaution” or some other polite non-explanation (not revealing that the pilot is out of the cockpit), spoken in a polite tone.

        Second of all, I would suggest not throwing around accusations of being an uneducated moron (you know, glass houses and all) if you think that the only terrorist threats are people from the Middle East. Most Muslims — including a similar proportion of extremists — live outside of the Middle East. Indonesia (south east Asia) has the largest Muslim population in any country. Remember the Bali bombings?

        While we’re at it, if it’s ok to profile people based on prior terrorist attacks, shouldn’t I be terrified and react irrationally toward white American ex-military guys? Remember Tim McVey?

        Frankly, I’m more terrified of Christian extremists than of Muslim extremists… After all, nutty Christian extremists have committed far more terrorist attacks on US soil than Muslims have (remember that spate of abortion clinic bombings, what, 10 years ago or so?).

      • LostAngeles says:

        @P_Smith: You’re kidding me right? People can’t tell the difference between multi-racial, Mexican, Indian, Arab, El Salvadorian, Pakistani, Hawaiian, and Italian.

    • kbrook says:

      @Mfalconieri: No. No, I do not prefer the ‘c’ word. It’s rude, vulgar, and reduces women to our genitals. There are millions of other words in this language to express your displeasure with another person, why do people insist on using this one?

      If you’re stuck, here’s a starting point:

      [www.pangloss.com]

  4. strife1012 says:

    Under Duress, as well a a Lawsuit towards the Airline and Attendant, as well as a Hate Crime would suffice to say the least.

  5. cobaltthorium says:

    in before “Privatize the profits, socialize the losses”?

  6. Ouze says:

    what a horrible story.

  7. Fist-o™ says:

    It often seems that many of these airline fiascos involve some flight attendant that acts poorly. This would appear to be the case here as well.

  8. chiieddy says:

    Was he read his rights? Including the right to an attorney? He should have had an attorney before pleading guilty to anything. And the public defender did not seem to be working in his best interests, this alone could overturn the conviction.

    • dragonfire81 says:

      @chiieddy: Doesn’t the patriot act allow law enforcement to hold anyone as long as they want to without making any formal charges or reading them rights?

    • perruptor says:

      @chiieddy: He did have an attorney, a public “defender” who told him the easiest thing to do was to plead guilty.

      Along with Lora Lee Minton, That PD needs a swift kick in the behind. After that, the same justice can be applied to the prosecutor.

  9. the Goat says:

    It sounds to me like he did brake the law. I see no racially motivating connection at all.

    When a member of the airplane’s crew tells you to do something you have to do it. End of story. In his description he states that he disregarded the crew’s instructions and tried to push past them. Clearly he broke the law.

    • rdm24 says:

      @the Goat:

      You don’t see race playing a role here? Really?

    • Mr_D says:

      @the Goat: I know, they should have totally shot him, execution-style, on the tarmac. That would have been what criminals like him deserve.

    • DeleteThisAccount says:

      @the Goat: The Goat or “The Sheep” because people like you seem to be all too content to blindly follow the “rules,” regardless of their merit.

    • Keavy_Rain says:

      @the Goat:
      Yes, that’s right. Let’s all be good little sheep and do as we’re told. Free thought, questioning those in charge, and social disobedience are all very bad things.

      Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go sit in the corner quietly while my rights are stripped from me and our government spends our great grandchildren into debt.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @the Goat: The flight attendant said, “This bath room is occupied, and you cannot stand here.” She did not say, “All passengers must remain seated while the pilot is not in the cockpit.”

      “This bath room is occupied” does not in any way imply that you can’t stand up again when you can see that the person in there is leaving.

    • Daemonstar says:

      @the Goat: I tend to agree that it doesn’t seem racially motivated, but I would have to review the law to see what it says about pilots; that’s not something I’m familiar with. I do agree that she definately needed to explain herself better to the doctor.

      In almost every penal code system, “Ignorance of Law” or “Mistake of Fact” are not an affirmative defense to prosecution. Every licensed driver is expected to obey every traffic law or risk citation. If you start reading your state’s transportation code, you’d be suprised for the little things you can be ticketed for (i.e.: a burnt out high-beam indicator light on the cluster panel). Most parents are still unsure of their rights regarding punishment of their children even though it is covered in most state’s family or juvenile codes.

      Also, he didn’t state what he was being charged with? I’d be interested to see what they convicted him for. It also seems like he should have had his own lawyer there and not have been assigned a public defender who looks like was trying to get the case over with quickly with little regard to who he was representing.

      It seems like he may not have been fully aware of his rights, but, again, that isn’t necessiarly a defense to prosecution, especially if he stated, verbally or in written form, that he knew his rights. The Miranda Warning does not have to be read to you until you are formally questioned by law enforcement regarding the case, unless exigent circumstances are present.

      Of course, this is federal law, so things are somewhat different than I have been used to.

      • cerbie says:

        @Daemonstar: if you think a high-beam indicator light is a little thing, you obviously haven’t been blinded by idiots at night on their cells, in SUVs, driving slowly through busy roads with their high beams on. Happens to me at least once a week, and it’s always an SUV, and almost always a hand-held cell phone up to their ear as they drive by. That indicator light would add one more thing they should have done differently if a wreck were caused. Thank DoT for those reflective center markers!

        For the topic at hand, I think we don’t have enough info. I’d bet, though, that he did the criminal equivalent of cashing a 10% refund check.

      • samurailynn says:

        @Daemonstar: Even if he had known that he shouldn’t be standing when the pilot is out of cockpit, he would have to know that the pilot is out of the cockpit in order to comply. If they didn’t make an announcement, how is he supposed to know?

    • @the Goat: @ You do know that stewardesses aren’t law enforcement agents, right? This man was reported to proper authorities by a flight attendant who most likely described the situation as “a foreigner acting up on the airplane” and the rest was history. I don’t think every case like this has a racist element to it; I do think this one does. My take is that the flight attendant overreacted to both this man’s ethnicity and actions, and got him charged for crimes he didn’t commit because of it.

  10. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    Flying while brown is the new driving while black.

    Full disclaimer, I’m white, and my avatar is a black puppet. Go diversity!

  11. Flame says:

    I know the circumstances are different, but Larry Craig isn’t having much luck getting out of his guilty plea….

    Having said that – this is federal law, not Missouri state law. Federal law allows for the withdrawal of a guilty plea in four differen ways. The first part probably won’t apply, but that last one might.

    Source:

    Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11(d) Withdrawing a Guilty or Nolo Contendere Plea.

    A defendant may withdraw a plea of guilty or nolo contendere:

    (1) before the court accepts the plea, for any reason or no reason; or

    (2) after the court accepts the plea, but before it imposes sentence if:

    (A) the court rejects a plea agreement under Rule 11(c)(5); or

    (B) the defendant can show a fair and just reason for requesting the withdrawal.

    These are fairly amiguous terms though, and I don’t have time to check for case law.

    Hope the guy is able to reverse his plea. I wonder, though, what the rest of the terms of the agreement were. Does he now have a criminal record? Was he given a withheld judgment? Anyone know?

    • BlondeGrlz says:

      @Flame: It seems to me if the charges turned out to be false or unfounded he could get the guilty plea overturned fairly easily. You can’t be guilty of something that didn’t happen, even if you claim you are. That letter from Frederick Taylor Jr calling the flight attendent’s behaviour “bizarre” should be exhibit A in his new court case.

      • Flame says:

        @BlondeGrlz: True. Like I said, I hope it works.

        The Courts don’t seem to be taking much chance with national security though.

        I agree that the flight attendant could have handled it MUCH better than she did.

        Personally, I don’t fly, so I didn’t even know about the rule that you can’t get up while the pilot is out of the cockpit.

        The problem that I see is that he did plead guilty. You should never ever plead guilty. As expensive as it is to have to hire an attorney, at least you know that your rights will be protected. And his public defender should be smacked upside the head for telling him to plead to it.

      • Difdi says:

        @BlondeGrlz: There are quite a few people in state and federal prison, where the only evidence used to convict them was their confession. Some of them are on death row. Many have been executed in the past based solely on a signed confession that they claimed was presented to them by police to be some other sort of document.

        The legal system is built on the assumption that no innocent person would ever plead guilty, that police and prosecutors would NEVER value case closure stats over putting the person who is truly guilty away. But neither of these assumptions is true in the present day, if they ever were true. But the assumptions remain throughout the criminal court system.

  12. JackAshley says:

    How could this be a law, unless passengers are notified when the captain is away from the cockpit? This law seems a little too easy to break – simply standing up could break this law, with no way for the passenger to know where the pilot is?

    • Egg Yolkeo says:

      @JackAshley:

      I had never flown before 9/11 but have flown several times domestically and internationally since then. I have never heard of this law in the media or from an airline employee. For all I know, I’ve broken the law several times and gotten away with it.

  13. nicemarmot617 says:

    Welcome to the New Amerika. Papers please.

  14. Trai_Dep says:

    It seems to me that if a urologist, of all people, tells you that he needs to pee, you should get out of the way. This without his saying in an authoritative way, “Clear the aisles – I’m a professional!”

  15. ThinkerTDM says:

    Did he break the law? How can one break a secret law that he didn’t know about?
    It seemed like he calmly explained the situation to the stewardess, who didn’t want to hear excuses, she just wanted him to do what he said without question.

    “Power corrupts…”. This woman, and many more people like her, have been given power and responsibility that they cannot handle.

    Also, these cretins may have power, but you can still have power and be nice.
    Politeness goes a long way, even for people with power. Needless to say, this whole situation could have been avoided if she had been trained properly and was polite to the victim here.

    • Antediluvian says:

      @ThinkerTDM: Oh, these days it’s pretty easy to break the secret laws we don’t know about.

      It’s even easier to break the secret regulations. Those are easier to create.

    • harrier666 says:

      Have you ever heard the announcement at the beginning of EVERY flight “obey the crew members instructions”? That is the law that you know if you would put down your book or turn off your ipod and listen. That is the law he violated.

  16. dmuth says:

    It sounds as though the “public defender” here wasn’t doing their job too well. Words like “ineffective counsel” come to mind here.

    Telling someone “sign this and you can go home” after they are put through 24 hours of misery sounds rather predatory to me.

    • @dmuth:
      As someone who has worked in Public Defense (Federally and Local), there are rules regarding communicating offers to client. Basically, unless your client has told you otherwise (i.e. accept nothing less than 5 years), a defense attorney is obligated to communicate all offers from the prosecutor to the client.

      Seeing as interfering with a flight crew can get you ridiculous amounts of time in Federal PMITA Prison, a night in jail and $2,500 doesn’t sound half bad. In fact, a night in jail and $2,500 is pretty damn good for Federal offenses (something as simple as being a deported alien found in the US usually gets requires $30,000 just for bail!. Ultimately, it is the client’s decision whether to accept a plea or not.

  17. maztec says:

    Heh, biggest mistake there was to plead guilty. Even if he may be able to get out of it, the effort to get out of it now is going to be significantly harder.

    In my opinion, never plead guilty unless you are guilty – or it is impossible to prove you are not guilty :|

    • ben_linus says:

      @maztec: In all fairness to him, if you were in his situation and put into 24 hours of absurdity, I’m guessing that 8-9 out of 10 readers here would take the guilty plea, get the f— outta there, and then raise hell with the consumerist.

      I hope SWA gives this guy a golden ticket for his trouble. That probably is the least they can do for him.

  18. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    Seems to me this should be an opportunity for the airlines to improve their staff training. If Lora Lee had the training to say “I’m sorry Sir, the lavatory at the front of the plane is off limits to passengers at the moment. When it becomes available I will try and let you know. Until then please stay in your seat. I am sorry for any discomfort this may cause you.” Or if the passenger is allowed to get out of his seat add this “You can use the lavatory at the rear of the plane.”

    But no, Lora Lee, by the accounts here, decides she is going to be the bitch in this situation and everything spirals out of control both for the paying passenger and the airline.

    Lesson here? Yes! All workers in service industries need suitable training to deal with customers, clients, the general public in a way that maintains a professional and appropriate relationship. Those that can and do maintain this professional relationship need to be rewarded. Those that fail to maintain this professional relationship need to be fired.

    If I were that doctor, I would be tempted to pursue this through all avenues, the courts, the press, and the Consumerist and not stop until I had Lora Lee’s head on a platter.

    …or take the train…

  19. lol_wut says:

    I would hope that everyone could get together and just agree to:

    a) Withdraw the guilty plea and clear his record

    b) Issue a public and written apology from the Airline and the employee that sounded the false alarm.

    c) Refund the man (or anyone else that paid for that ticket), giving a voucher here is insulting.

    d) The flight attendant should be fired.

    e) If there are any new rules and regulations, or laws, that state you cannot be up from your seat when the pilot is out of the cockpit please direct everyone to them before the flight and during the pre-flight announcements.

  20. WarOtter - I went to Japan and all I got was this tumor. says:

    Sadly it still sound like a more pleasant trip than one would receive on United Airways.

  21. Xerloq says:

    The flight attendant’s behavior was unacceptable. All she had to do was explain that Federal regulations prohibit standing at the front of the plane. Most airlines tell you if you have to use the front lavatory, check the occupancy sign to make sure it is unoccupied. I dislike traveling with Southwest.

  22. mac-phisto says:

    this is depressing. this is our america today. our rights are being trampled & the best we can do is plead guilty & pay the extortionist so we can just go home.

    it’s unfortunate that dr. madduri chose the path of least resistance, but i don’t blame him. “go home tonite or face a protracted federal court battle 1500 miles from your home”. lord knows if they would’ve even released him – he’s a terrorist! he’s a flight risk!

    the only consolation (if you can call it that) is that this is now happening to good, mainstream, law-abiding americans. only when the tyranny begins to affect the average joe does he begin to care enough to get off the couch & do something about it.

  23. tedyc03 says:

    These are the same people who wouldn’t let me board a flight because I wasn’t wearing my shoes (I had to run through security because their 25-minute connection put me in another terminal). I missed that flight and got nothing but threats of arrest and prosecution for not wearing shoes.

  24. Ein2015 says:

    Couldn’t a simple “pilot’s in the bathroom, come back one he’s in the cockpit again” or “a VIP is in the bathroom, I’ll come get you when it’s your turn” do the trick?

    I hate all these racist, fearmongering people out there who think anybody that’s not white is out to kill them! (Full transparency: I’m a white Texan, 21yo.)

    I try my best to point out whenever people are being illogical, paranoid, delusional, racist, fearmongering, etc… but damn I’m only one person.

    This story itself is EXACTLY why I hate most people. Why do I HATE them? (“Wah, hate is a strong word, *whine whine*.”) Because they cause massive damages in society by their stupidity, illogical behavior, fearmongering tactics, paranoid conclusions, and delusional fantasies.

    Please, people. Educate your children WELL. Encourage positive changes to public education that DO NOT involve brainwashing but instead rely on LOGIC. Vote for more politicians who who do the same (good education, good rationale, etc). This country is going downhill economically and intellectually as we continue to let these things happen. If in 5-10 years NOTHING changes to stop this slipperly slope, I’m out of here!

  25. Jon Mason says:

    Yeah – once again, a situation that could have been avoided by the flight attendant doing exactly the same thing but in a “nicer” way. “I’m sorry sir, the pilots using that bathroom and we have to keep the area clear. I’ll let you know when he is done.” How do these people work in customer service and not know the simple rule of “be nice”.

  26. ObtuseGoose says:

    Couldn’t he have used the bathroom at the back of the plane? Why didn’t the flight attendant tell him to do that?

    This should never have happened, based on what I’ve read. Southwest is clearly in the “wrong”. The flight attendant should have explained why he couldn’t use that bathroom at that time. Although I don’t know why he wasn’t allowed to use it after the pilot had gone back to the cockpit. It really does sound like racial profiling.

  27. Pylon83 says:

    To those who think the public defender was wrong, re-read what he explained to the guy. He said “you can fight it and win, but it will take a lot of time and you’ll have to come back to vegas a few times. Or, you can pay $2500 and go home. No jail time, just a fine.” I fail to see how that was wrong. I’m not saying that the OP was wrong in accepting it, but he had his options explained and chose to just go home. Don’t push the blame off on the Public Defender because he explained the options to his client.

    • NYGal81 says:

      @Pylon83: If you had the terrifying experience this guy just had, would you be quick to engage in a (likely) protracted legal battle, or would you just like to to be over? Yes, he had his options explained to him, but I can see how he might have felt like he didn’t have much of a choice…

  28. Skankingmike says:

    You guys have to understand a few things.

    1.) Who on that plane knew this mans story? Nobody i could claim to be the pope on the plane doesn’t mean squat.

    2.) Why would you tell people the captain is out of the cock pit using the bathroom? That’s an invitation to disaster if there was somebody on board that wanted to cause trouble.

    3.) yes our imprisoning of people without bail or legal rights is horrible, but you people keep electing these politicians so stop complaining and start acting, Dem’s and Repub’s are all the same and until you guys understand that and start either running yourself or voting thrid party people in you’re gonna keep having stupid laws like these.

    Do i feel bad for this guy? sure, he didn’t deserve all that, but he did break the law, and he did disobey the flight attendant.

    Say what you will but flying is different now in the US. She made a judgment call and she knew the laws no body is to be up when the captain is going to the bathroom, it’s not like they’re gonna announce this rule at the beginning of every flight and scare people.

    • badhatharry says:

      @Skankingmike:
      Why would you tell people the captain is out of the cock pit using the bathroom? That’s an invitation to disaster if there was somebody on board that wanted to cause trouble

      If they are going to make it an enforceable law, then they need to make the public aware of it. Especially if the punishment is a night in jail and a $2,500 fine. This man is a doctor. He can afford the fine more than most people. The average person in MO (per-capita income in 2006, $32,793) would find it more difficult to come up with $2,500 to cover a fine for a law that they did not know they broke. In addition, he now has a criminal record that is going to bite him in the ass every time he boards a plane. All of this because he and the pilot both had to pee.

      he did break the law, and he did disobey the flight attendant.

      If my options are disobey the flight attendant or piss my pants, she can take a seat.

      it’s not like they’re gonna announce this rule at the beginning of every flight and scare people.

      I fail to see how this would scare people. Telling people that it is illegal to tamper with the pilot’s pacemaker, I can see how that would scare people. Not telling people to sit down when the pilot has a twosie on deck.

      • Skankingmike says:

        @badhatharry:

        Ignorance of the law does not excuse or Ignorantia juris non excusat. Don’t like it? move.

        If you take something that you know makes you pee, just don’t take it, this isn’t’ a life or death pill i know people who take this and sometimes skip taking it a day or so.

        People scare easy, that’s why. Same reason you can’t say bomb on the plane or in a crowd of people.

        • badhatharry says:

          @Skankingmike: I’m not taking issue with ignorance of the law excusing it, I’m taking issue with your opinion that the law needs to remain a secret. I have flown A LOT since 9/11, and was never aware of this law. If they’re going to enforce the law to such an extent, then they need to let people know when they are about to break the law.

          • Skankingmike says:

            @badhatharry: I’m sure there are lots of laws you don’t’ know about. That’s what governments do. There’s so many laws out there that are obscure. But they claim its in the announcements at the beginning of the flight. It’s not their fault they zone out during this.

            • badhatharry says:

              @Skankingmike: I too am sure that there are many laws I don’t know about, but those laws are ones that I am in no danger of breaking. Your original post said that the “no getting up while the pilot is off the flight deck” law should remain secret. It should not. Why do you keep arguing that my point is that ignorance of the law excuses breaking the law when I am arguing your point that the law should be enforceable, and secret?

              • Skankingmike says:

                @badhatharry: No i said they shouldn’t announce when the captain is leaving the cock pit, not the law shouldn’t be announced. They did in fact state that the law was announced before that flight, and all others.

                Unless somebody who was a passenger on that flight speaks up, all we have is a he said she said, in which case neither party is ever telling 100% truth. Bottom line he broke a law whether he was aware of this law or not, he did in deed break it.

                • badhatharry says:

                  @Skankingmike: That’s like saying there’s a speed limit, not stating what the limit is, and then busting people for speeding. If something as pedestrian as getting up to use the restroom at a certain time is a Federal crime, then the passengers need to be made aware of when they would break that law. Even if the law was announced before the flight (once again, I have flown well over a hundred times since 9/11 and have never heard this law announced, just that it is a crime to tamper with the flight officers or flight deck, and that hardly is the case here), announcements need to be made when that law is in danger of being broken.

                  I’m not getting into whether or not the OP is correct (I don’t understand why a Urologist would bother with a PD), I am simply going on the hypothetical that a man was refused access to the restroom without explanation, was assualted by crew (pushed), and detained and charged with a crime. Even if he was in the wrong, he shouldn’t be charged because he was a dick on the plane.

        • chatterboxwriting says:

          @Skankingmike: Actually, it could be a life or death pill depending on the reason you’re taking it. I take massive doses of diuretic because I have kidney failure. If I miss one dose, my system goes on fluid overload and my eyelids, face, ankles, feet, fingers, and abdomen swell up with fluid. If my belly gets filled enough, it becomes difficult to breathe. He was taking the pill for his blood pressure. You should NEVER skip your blood pressure medicine – elevated blood pressure can cause stroke, breakage of blood vessels in the eyes and nose, and other problems that you would NOT want to have on a plane.

          Why should someone have to stop their life-sustaining medication because a flight attendant is on a power trip or because there is some law no one seems to know about?

    • NYGal81 says:

      @Skankingmike: Yep…flying is different now. I have flown since 9/11–not much, but enough to know that, at NO time on ANY flight was I informed that it’s a violation of federal(?) law to be out of my seat when the captain is not at his post. Just for fun, I’m going to ask my brother about his experiences. He flies 4x per week, every week, so he’ll have some more recent experiences than I will.

      So the question, for me, really becomes: can you break a law that you didn’t know existed, and were never notified that you were violating, even at the time of the infraction? I know the technical answer to my question is “yes, a law is a law whether or not you know about it.” It seems, though, that we have the right to know the laws so that we can either choose to abide, or choose to not abide. Hell…even when people get CAUGHT breaking KNOWN laws (i.e. speeding), there is some leeway to excuse first-time offenders or unusual circumstances. It seems really shady to drag this guy through the federal system for something that amounts to lack of notification and piss-poor customer service.

    • @Skankingmike:

      People like Skankingmike, who very briskly dismiss other people’s misfortune, are always the first to go apoplectic when it happens to them.

      Every. Single. Time.

      This happen to you Mike, you’d be suing for $50,000,000,000,000.

      Of course, I know what the next thing you’d say, too. “Oh, this would never happen to me…”

      Which is why people like you go apoplectic when it happens. You secretly think that anyone arrested must be guilty of something and don’t quite get that is very often not the case.

    • Ein2015 says:

      @Skankingmike: What are the guys that are dressed in civilian clothes but are basically police in the air called? Air Martials? Sky Martials? Something like that.

      Either way, she made a HORRIBLE judgment call. She sucks at customer service, and she fails to say why the guy cant use the dang toilet. She shoved the guy (which she is not allowed to do). She could have said “oh, there’s a VIP in the bathroom, I’ll let you know when it’s your turn.” But NO! Instead she decided to be racist, rude, illogical, etc and look what happened.

      That woman should be fired. That guy’s record should be expunged. And employees need to be trained that not all Indians are terrorists, and not everybody that has to pee wants to kill somebody.

      Also, I hate the 2-party system as well. But you’re still wrong about the law/flight attendant/too-bad BS. :)

      • Skankingmike says:

        @Ein2015: The woman shouldn’t be fired for doing her job.

        His record should be reduced he still violated a law regardless of how many people know this exists or not, a Law is a Law if you think it’s unconstitutional then run for office or lobby them to change it.

        I don’t know any Indians ever since maybe during WWII that might be considered Terrorists. I’m sure she didn’t know the difference. Which is horrible, but common we’re talking Red states here not exactly the smartest people in the world.

        Racist? No profiling is a nessesary evil, and it’s not just brown and blacks that are, if you’re an irish person flying around you’re probably gonna get asked a few questions (i mean real Irish).

        Same if you are or look like a gypsy, they have a horrible reputation and most cops pretty much pigeon hold them. Sucks but it’s life. Hippies want you to think everybody is equal and life is special, guess what it’s not. We all have something bigoted about us the sooner you realize that the sooner you can be at peace with this.

        see previous about ignorance of law.

    • ktetch says:

      Ah yes, that’s right, “an invitation to cause trouble”. Bcause, as we all know, terrorism happens all the time.

      Unfortunatly, the terrorism that happens is by the governemnt, and the media (just read the definition of terrorism in the the Federal Code). Terrorism from the government is the only kind that the US citizens have ever really faced.

      Call me back when you have bombs going off every week or two, or rocket/sniper attacks. , you know like we had in the UK in the 90s, from those nice (mostly American funded) Irish terrorists.

      Why would ACTUAL terrorists have to attack? their job is done for them, by people like this stewardess, and by Glenn Beck, Obama, Leiberman, Bush, Pelosi, et al.

      “until you guys understand that and start either running yourself or voting thrid party people in you’re gonna keep having stupid laws like these.”
      Do you actually know what it’s like to set up a 3rd party, or run in most states? I have been trying to set up a Us party in ANY state for 3 years. Now, bear in mind I speak english, a bit of French, and some spanish&italian. In the past 12 months I’ve managed to help form parties in Serbia, Poland, Russia, Italy, the Czech republic, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, Chili Brazil, and Peru. Ireland, Switzerland and the Ukraine. And Argentina. All those countries, which include several former soviet countries, are MORE DEMOCRATIC than the US. Easier to deal with them in their language, than with the myriad of Secretaries of State/Lt Governors (depending on state) in English. Arkansas for instance, needs 10,000 voter signatures collected within a 60 day period. Oklahoma’s so bad, most of the ‘3rd parties’ have banded together- http://www.okvoterchoice.org/ (was the only state without a libertarian presidential candidate in 04)

  29. Anomaly69 says:

    @ the Goat:

    You should call yourself “the Sheep”, because you have clearly shown yourself to be one by stating essentially that he should blindly follow instructions.

    Also, learn how to spell. The word is break, not brake. Brakes are on cars.

  30. morganlh85 says:

    I wish he wouldn’t have plead the case…now he will probably have trouble flying for the rest of his life.

  31. legwork says:

    The $100 voucher for future air travel has to be the “out of touch with reality” capper to this story. I’m sure Dr. Madduri will be quick to take SW up on the valuable offer.

    Perhaps Frederick Taylor Jr moonlights as a flight-attendant trainer? Senior manager my foot.

    Mommy, will the nightmares end soon?

  32. quackwhack says:

    This story is ridiculous and that stewardess deserves to be fired and charged. She didn’t explain the problem or issue at all. She said someone was in the bathroom, and when the good doctor saw someone exit another lavatory tried to go. How was he to know about a) the pilot and b) the new 9/11 rule. I’ve flown dozens of times since then and have never heard of this rule, nor have I heard a flight attendant try to stop someone from going to the bathroom.

    I urge you to send the story to your local news. Southwest played nice after the news media got hold of the skimpy-dress story. Here is more Southwest acting ridiculously. Contact your newspapers, local and national tv stations, and editors.

  33. nez77 says:

    I don’t understand why he just didn’t use the bathrooms in the rear of the airplane. He clearly “needed to go.” I agree that what the flight attendant did was not right, but it seems to be that it could have been avoided by using the other restrooms.

  34. cmdrsass says:

    Pro Tip for future flights: If you have a medical issue, inform the flight crew in advance so that they can accommodate your special needs.

  35. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    There is no mention of what the charges were and what he plead guilty to.

  36. KhaiJB says:

    to all those saying ‘he broke the law’… how many of us posting here knew that this law existed in the first place? has anyone seen it listed on their boarding passes, posted at the gates, on the headrest infront of you, or even announced in the safety instructions?

    and why did’nt she tell him of this law on the aircraft? why did he only hear of it at his arrest?

    has anyone looked this law up as yet?

    • Pylon83 says:

      @KhaiJB:
      Laws don’t have to be posted, nor do you have to be aware of them in order to be charged with breaking them. That said, I question whether such a law truly does exist, however there are usually enough “Catch all” laws that can encompass something like this.

    • scoosdad says:

      @KhaiJB: I think the law that was allegedly broken was interference with a flight crew. They seem to use that an awful lot lately to cover these kinds of instances, and no, they’re under no legal obligation to stage a reading of all applicable laws and statutes prior to the plane taking off.

      On recent flights with JetBlue, I noticed two things: the flight attendants always dragged the drink cart across the front bulkhead wall opening and stood behind it with their arms crossed, whenever a member of the crew came out for call of nature or coffee; and that the cockpit crew always used the bathroom one right after the other, that is, the co-pilot and the pilot always used the bathroom in sequence, so that the aisle only had to be blocked once. I think this is probably who the first user of the bathroom was in this case, the co-pilot, and then he was followed by the pilot who was named as such by the flight attendant.

  37. Anks329 says:

    Last time I was on Southwest, and the pilot went to the restroom, all of the flight attendants went to the front of the plane and barricade the front with the food service carts. If you were in the first row, you couldn’t get out of your row, and anyone behind that couldn’t get past that first row.

  38. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    @cmdrsass: Yes, and they’ll just throw that person off the plane.

    @KhaiJB: Exactly. I had no idea this existed. If I was told of this, I would’ve complied – Lora Lee’s false assumption was that everyone knew the new rule and when that didn’t turn out to be the case, Dr. Madduri’s “disruption” turned into Lora Lee treating him like dirt.

  39. axiomatic says:

    I am completely ashamed of Southwest, this stewardess, and America. What have we come too?

    I hope this Doctor sues the pants off all involved.

  40. BrAff says:

    I hope this guy OWNS Southwest Airlines after this… actually, that would probably be a bad investment.

  41. quackwhack says:

    Also, the fact that Southwest contacted him first says they know what they did was wrong. Why else bother to contact him other than to buy him off with a worthless voucher?

  42. KhaiJB says:

    been looking on the FAA and TSA websites… and I’m not finding any law that states you must sit when the pilot is sh… ok we’ll avoid that joke..

    anyone else found it yet?

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @KhaiJB: nope, ran a search here:
      [ecfr.gpoaccess.gov] which i was linked to from the FAA website
      looking through about 4500 search results involving the word passenger, but the only thing i can find is [as someone else said above] ‘interfering with flight crew’
      or being out of his seat when the fasten seat belt sign was on, IF that is the case [which the OP didn’t refer to at all, so we don’t know what the situation there was]

  43. digitalgimpus says:

    I really hope he sues Southwest and the flight attendant.

    Should have just pissed on the seat. Refusing basics such as sanitary conditions (which includes a bathroom) is a violation of civil rights in most cases. Even teachers can’t really refuse to let a student use the bathroom (though you likely won’t learn that until college that it was just a bluff).

  44. shufflemoomin says:

    What a poor, poor guy. He’s living in the country providing medical attention to the citizens of it, and he gets f**cked over by the same country. Sadly, with the paranoia of the US about anyone not even remotely white, the best thing he could actually do, is move to another country. Or at the very least refuse to fly in a country where a sizable percentage of the people who are racist, biggoted, arrogant and ignorant of anyone who doesn’t look like them. It’s a sad state of affairs, but the media have talked the more ignorant of the US citizens into thinking everyone with even a hint of brown to their skin is a terrorist. And I think most people would be shocked how many US citizens probably actually feel that way, especially on an aircraft. And the people likely to defend against that statement, are exactly the type of people who feel that way. A good deal of people in US don’t leave their own country and learn mostly about the wider world from the Media and the media act like everyone from the Middle East hates the US and they’re all terrorists. Let’s hope the new President to come, if he happens to be an African American (Or whatever the current PC term is) can change that mentality and everyone can relax a little.

  45. howie_in_az says:

    wtf all this and Southwest had the gall to offer him a measly $100?

    1- Lora Milton should be fired.

    2- Southwest should make an actual apology. Go visit the guy in person (you can afford it, you run an airline!) and apologize in person. Offer him free flights for a year. This is a huge PR disaster and will only get worse if Southwest continues to offer $100 “we’re so sorry and we take this seriously” apologies.

    3- Ensure that this does not happen again by instructing cabin stewards to tell the passengers why they can’t go to the bathroom. Make this part of the “here’s how to buckle your seatbelt” spiel.

    • amuro98 says:

      @howie_in_az:

      In SWA’s defense, they probably didn’t know the full details of what happened to the doctor after the flight landed. They were probably just trying to apologize for their insane stewardess.

      1. Fired? Head on a pike in front of SWA’s headquarters as a warning to all employees that they take this sort of thing “very seriously”.

      2. What honestly makes you think this guy is EVER going to want to fly in the US – let alone on SWA – ever again? What about the $2500 he paid for bail after being arrested for this mess?

      3. Bah, do you honestly think there is such a rule? The guy tried to go to the bathroom when no one was in there, and was yelled at and physically pushed back into his seat by the stewardess.

      From looking at the article, our good doctor should be looking at filing assault and battery charges against the stewardess, a lawsuit for his pain and suffering against SWA, not to mention possible lawsuits against the Las Vegas police department for false arrest, any number of civil rights violations. It doesn’t sound to me that he was actually charged with anything, and even when they couldn’t find anything suspicious in his background, they still didn’t let him go.

      Next time he’ll know better. He should have just dropped his pants, and urinated on the stewardess right there. As they say, if you’re going to do the time, might as well do the crime.

  46. As someone who has accepted guilty pleas from people as part of plea bargains (which is what this sounds like), it is incredibly hard to appeal. When you plead guilty as part of a bargain, you sign away your right to appeal and acknowledge it in open court (with a few exceptions that are hard to prove- and being scared of staying in jail are not one of them).

    Having plead guilty also pretty much ruins his right to sue the Feds for wrongful arrest (since the arrest lead to a valid conviction). I suppose he could try suing Southwest and the flight attendant (who I doubt has much money), but it will be very hard to have a jury find that the airline acted improperly when the Doctor ended up pleading guilty after the FA did her thing.

  47. james says:

    “break the law” not brake.
    He sounds very rude and pushy and I am not sure we are getting the whole story.
    First, I would image the “fasten your seatbelts” sign was illuminated. And, secondly, is there no rear bathroom? Why is he trying to push past the stewardess instead of calmly explaining his situation and asking for alternatives to the front bathroom.
    Besides, the attendant told him he couldn’t use the front restroom and he ignored her completely and acted in a menacing way towards her. I would guess she was rightfully scared seeing that the pilot was in the toilet and this man is refusing her request to wait and attempting to push by her to get to the pilot while he was in the bathroom. If I acted in the manner this man did, I would expect to be detained and possibly arrested.

  48. Craig says:

    Southwest’s response was just another slap in the face…a $100 voucher??? At the very least they should offer to reimburse him for the $2,500 fine and pay the legal fees to clear his name.

  49. Caged Wisdom says:

    It also states in the article that there was a line to use the bathroom at the rear of the plane. I’ve been on a few flights were people seem to be unaware that there are bathrooms in multiple locations, the rear of the plane always seems to queue up more than anywhere else.

  50. sprocket79 says:

    Was there another bathroom in the back of the plane that he could have used? I’m not trying to blame the victim, it’s really an honest question.

    If there was a bathroom in the back of the plane, the sensible thing for the flight attendant to do would be to tell him that that particular restroom was unavailable and direct him to the one in the back.

  51. Also, I hate to be “that guy”, but the instant taking of a plea and imposition of a fine sounds a bit fishy. Sentencing in Federal Court (at least for felonies) takes _forever_. The Department of Probation interviews the defendant, looks into their family life, etc before writing a report to the Court. Then the defense writes their own report and the prosecution can right one too. This can literally take months. I worked as a Federal Defender for a summer and did quite a bit of writing for pre-sentencing reports (great practice for writing complete bullshit).

    It is possible that he plead to a misdemeanor, and I am not privy to sentencing procedures for Federal Misdemeanors. I know in New York, the maximum fine for misdemeanors is $1,000. That said, I just found a case with the fine for a Federal Misdemeanor (DUI) was $5,000, so my suspicion may be misplaced.

  52. Let’s put cameras in all airplane cabins with audio.

    The end of airline personnel abusing passengers – and passengers abusing airline personnel.

    There will be less bogus reporting like this and when there is an incident, you can just say “let’s go to the videotape.”

    Dr. Madduri sounds quite sincere and I believe him.

  53. I also had this happen to me on an American flight. I needed to use a bathroom out of dire medical need. I was made to walk about 30 rows to the back of the plane because I wasn’t a “first class” passenger.

    Even after explaining my medical need, the only response I got was “GO TO THE BACK OF THE PLANE. GO TO THE BACK OF THE PLANE” being yelled in my face.

    I guess I’m lucky I’m wasn’t arrested for not wanting to pee myself.

    • amuro98 says:

      @twophrasebark:

      I wish they’d put in multiple bathrooms for coach.

      In the airline’s defense, when I’ve flown American they have been very clear that due to federal aviation law, only first class customers can use the bathroom up front. Everyone else, must go to the back. I assume it’s mostly to keep people from wandering into the front of the plane in the event of a hijacker. Of course, what would stop the hijacker from buying a first class ticket in the first place? After all, he probably only needs a 1 way ticket….

  54. Rhayader says:

    My sympathies to Dr. Madduri. I’m sure he understands after being here so long that our legal system is not SUPPOSED to operate with an atmosphere of suspicion and bullying, but unfortunately it often does.

    This is unacceptable on the part of both Southwest and all authorities who were involved. Whether technically legal or not, their actions were irrational and against the spirit of laws meant to protect people from real danger.

  55. angelmom1 says:

    We are told to look past color because it is racist not to. And yet even as the average citizen feels and acts as if racism is a horrible crime, our government, the police, and others with power, continue to act and be racist with impunity. They should be held to the same standards as the average American, even higher.
    The police should have listened to his story at the airport. He then should have been released after a quick background check showed he had no history and other passengers questioned affirmed his story. The flight attendent should have been sighted for filing a false report. End of story. But those with power tend to abuse that power if they are not people of honor and integrity (Lora Lee Monton, prime example).
    This isn’t an isolated event, there have been several stories in the media about flight attendents abusing their power and causing mental, physical, and emotional abuse on innocent passengers on their flights. If flight attendents are going to have the power to “punish” passengers on their flights, on a whim, because of the new homeland security guidelines. They should have to have background checks and training and be licensed before they are given this authority. Unfortunately, the leaders making these guidelines are just as badly qualified as the people that they allow to use this unseemly power. Racial profiling is wrong for everyone to use and those caught using it should be the ones arrested and punished, not the innocent person they have chosen as their victim.

  56. mrgenius says:

    Reason 217 not to fly Southwest!

  57. deathbysnusnu says:

    The best part of his letter is this: ‘You are not guilty until proven otherwise’. Clearly, this is the very first time this person has been at the wrong place at the wrong time, or had a misunderstanding with the law. I assure you, in my experience, peace officers assume the exact opposite.

    Flying in the post-9/11 world seems like a weird Russian Roulette, which rapidly turns into a Kafka-esque ordeal if you randomly lose. For example, when my sister died of cancer, I bought a plane ticket for the next flight as soon as I could. Spin the chamber! Pull the trigger! And…? Oh no, apparently buying a ticket on short notice is “suspicious”! Off to security I go for grueling questioning and searching…

  58. angryhippo says:

    I think one of the biggest problems is that police and FBI are so willing to arrest and charge based entirely on what an airplane waitress says.

  59. ncc74656m says:

    I had a similar (though less legally entwining) incident on a Jet Blue flight just a few weeks ago. At one point, I got up to go to the bathroom, and went to the back of the aircraft because there was someone in the front. I found both were occupied, so I looked back up front and found the other unoccupied (light outside the door).

    I started to walk up and found the attendant standing in the way, so I pointed to the bathroom, and she goes “You need to sit down. I’m going to need you to sit down RIGHT NOW!”

    I should mention here that I’m a 6’4″ white male.

    She sounded stressed and annoyed. Naturally, I did, not wanting to piss off a woman who could have me arrested, regardless of what I did or didn’t do (see OP).

    After a moment or two, the pilot did exit the bathroom, and they went back and forth, and finally, after all was said and done, she stood out of the way again, and I finally got up and went to the bathroom without so much as eye contact with that woman.

    Still, the OP makes the best point. IF this is a rule and they don’t want shit, JUST SAY SO! It’s not hard. Besides, this kind of incident WOULD make me want to harm a flight attendant.

  60. dmuth says:

    Want to email Southwest to complain? Good luck! I just checked their contact page and saw this:

    “We are hard at work designing a system that will allow us to accept and respond to e-mail, yet maintain that personal touch that you have come to expect from Southwest.”

    Unbelievable. Apaparently email is too much for this airline to master.

  61. wongtam says:

    My question is…after he was first told to sit down, someone else other than the pilot came out one of the toilets. Why was he there in the first place?

  62. Gokuhouse says:

    That flight attendant better hope that this doctor isn’t a grudge holder. If he knows her name, he can find out all he needs to find where she lives.

  63. Sockatume says:

    Is it my imagination, or is the $100 coupon being sent out to all of the passengers to apologise for his behavior? It refers to a “the bizarre behaviour of the individual”, not “the unprofessional behavior of one of our employees” or anything else which would suggest it referred to the stewardess.

  64. Ken Edwards says:

    I can’t flipping believe it.

  65. MyPetFly says:

    Pee in the aisle… ;)

  66. Klaus_Kinsky says:

    All I hear is a cash register ringing: intentional infliction of emotional distress. I hope he gets a good lawyer.

  67. UdoCursor says:

    @Daemonstar: `In almost every penal code system, “Ignorance of Law” or “Mistake of Fact” are not an affirmative defense to prosecution` …..maybe they should be.

    There’s no excuse for government anymore. Stop stealing from me.

  68. Dawgs_Phan says:

    Just gives me another reason to not fly united

  69. goodywitch says:

    In my linguistic anthro class, we were shown a video contrasting a typical white vs Indian interaction. Just how you say things is perceived differently (you’d have to see the video to truly understand what I’m talking about). What seems normal for an Indian (it was normal to me, I’m South Asian American) is taken as slighly belligerant by Caucasians. I don’t care how long he was in this country, I don’t think he changed the way he speaks. What seemed normal to him was probably seen as anger/threatening by the flight attendant. So I can see why the flight attendant did what she did.

    However, still not excuseable. He’s an older gentleman, and he stated that he’s taking medication that makes him have to pee. That will make anyone anxious to use the restroom. To top it off, her excuse of don’t stand in the aisle was moot after the door was opened and the potty was free. If she had said honestly from the start that he would have to remain seated for the time being because of security issues, but he would be able to go shortly, then that should be OK. Don’t they have standard scripts on how to evade being completely honest, but still convey what needs to be done? For goodness sakes, they’re trained on how the pilots like their coffee, why aren’t they told how to deal with customers who need to pee at the same time pilots need to?

    Unfortunately, he shouldn’t have pleaded guilty. That seriously harms his case, since he technically didn’t plead out of duress. I hope it doesn’t count too much against him, and I hope he makes them pay, and that the stewardess (not flight attendant, but stewardess) is fired.

  70. kbrook says:

    What is it about a little bit of (temporary) power that makes certain people go batshit crazy? All the lady had to do was say that he shouldn’t be out of his seat when the pilot was out of the cockpit in a polite manner. Instead, she got nasty and belligerent. People wonder why I’m sliding ever closer to misanthropy…

  71. RedwoodFlyer says:

    Just read something which is in stark contrast to what was reported here…apparently, the letter/voucher was supposed to be for every pax EXCEPT the water balloon, but they accidentally sent it to him as well, but they referred to the disruptive individual as a she, so the Dr thought it meant the FA…

    [www.airliners.net]

  72. RedwoodFlyer says:

    By the way, an interesting article on WN’s proactive cust. relations department:

    [www.nytimes.com]

  73. TMurphy says:

    “Southwest has since told Dr. Madduri, “We don’t want this experience to affect your feelings about flying with us in the future,” and they’ve offered him a $100 voucher.”

    I seriously laughed out loud when I read this. He spends a night in jail, pays a $2500 fine, gets treated horribly, and this is their response? It comes across as a slap in the face rather than a sincere attempt to make amends.

  74. YashwantMeadowlark says:

    If the story that the passenger wrote is completely true …

    I am thinking maybe Laura Lee didnt get some the night before the flight and she took it out on this poor man. Talk about being bitter and twisted! There are MANY ways of keeping passengers out of the galley area. Telling them that they would be informed when lavatory is empty is one of them. In extreme cases WARNING THEM that they COULD be reported to the authorities upon landing is the other. There are million ways to defuse any situation and FA’s are taught those tactics in their training. She gives a bad name to thousands of Flight Attendants who have sense of diplomacy, delicacy and gentle ways of handling and enforcing federal laws. Yes, sometimes they have to be tough but unless a passenger is clearly aggressive, abusive or non-compliant, there is no reason for such extreme measures. She sounds very rough on the edges and someone that would be better suited for a jail warden or a customs officer position rather than that of a Flight Attendant.

    Shame on you Laura Lee. I wonder how can you live with yourself for putting this poor man through such hell … all for nothing.

  75. Julia789 says:

    I understand why they want people away from the front of the plane when the pilot opens the bulletproof door to come out and use the bathroom – because that is the only window of opportunity for someone to bully their way into the controls of the plane and hijack, while that door is opening and closing. But the way it was handled by the flight attendant was terrible.

    Or was she told to guard the aisle aggressively when the pilot came out to pee? Certainly she could have asked nicely instead of yelling the first time. But maybe she was ordered not to say the pilot was in the bathroom – maybe they don’t want to advertise that the window of opportunity to break into the cockpit was open. Any flight attendants here that can weigh in on this? I’m just speculating, but maybe she was just doing her job, albeit very rudely.

    The poor man though! What a horrible experience to go through.

  76. cccdude says:

    and with that guilty plea, give a big Hello to the “No Fly List”. Sad – I usually only have praise for Southwest. I hope this was an isolated incident caused by one bitter flight attendant during her special time of the month.

  77. Meathamper says:

    I personally am shocked by this. I don’t think there ever has been a law like that, it’s just either (a) racist bastards or (b) over-reactive people who freak out over anything not white.

  78. sam-i-am says:

    It’s sad that the legal system in our country doesn’t allow you to defend yourself without ponying up a lot of cash. Like witch hunts, the incentive is on pleading guilty.

  79. billy says:

    After reading a lot about this, I don’t think this is as cut and dry as most people seem to think it is. Most of the articles about the incident are just repeats of other articles, but there are some which tell a slightly different side…notably, this one: [www.airliners.net]

    According to the article, the doctor gets up to go to the bathroom and is told that he can’t use it while the pilot is out of the flight deck. This is completely reasonable and there are FAA regulations cited in these comments to back it up. Add to that the FAA regulation at 91.3 which gives broad discretion to the way the pilot runs his plane and I don’t see how that can be an issue. I don’t think that anybody would disagree that the pilot’s safety is at utmost importance when he’s piloting a plane.

    Anyway, according to the article, the doctor goes back to his seat until the pilot leaves the lavatory. It’s difficult to say, but according to the attached article, the doctor was approaching the cockpit while the captain was out and while the captain was ostensibly returning to the flight deck. Obviously, to get in the flight deck, he’d have to unsecure and open the door. Again, when this is going on, passengers should absolutely not be approaching the cockpit.

    According to the flight attendant, it was at that time that the doctor tried to push past her. She pushed him back.

    According to the article, the doctor plead to misdemeanor assault. I assume that what that means is that when he tried to push past the attendant, he committed the assault. Note, he didn’t plead to standing in the aisle while the captain was pooping or any other nonsense that other people have spouted on this board.

    Also, note the other articles where it is described that the other passengers applauded the flight crew’s behavior.

    Based on that, I can’t see where SWA was in the wrong here.

  80. LewCincinnatus says:

    But, after 24 hours of detention, doesn’t the state have to bring you before a judge and have a hearing for Bail? And if they are offering $2500 and time servered as a sentence, how much could bail reasonably be?

    The guy made a mistake pleaing, and his public defender may or may not have explained this all to him, but he should have. If he didn’t, then there’s probably room to have the plea withdrawn.

    • billy says:

      @LewCincinnatus: If he didn’t plea, the judge would have had a bail hearing. On the other hand, the doctor’s account of what happened is so vague and sketchy (and he readily admits that he didn’t know what he was doing) that he might have already had the bail hearing and didn’t realize it.

      There is nothing in the story to make anyone believe that it’s the PD’s fault. The PD MUST convey offers to the accused. It’s the choice of the accused to take that offer. And there’s nothing in the article to suggest what the bail would be and whether it would be higher or lower than $2500. Even if he was released on no bail pending his trial, the doctor STILL might have taken the plea just to get out of there. It’s not the PD’s fault if that was the doctor’s position.

  81. ELC says:

    I doubt he’ll hear anything from the ACLU (Anti-Christian Liberation Unit) b/c his case won’t advance their cause of destabilization of the American society or undermining Christian beliefs.

    [www.acluvamerica.com]

    • billy says:

      @ELC: If that’s what you think the ACLU is about, you are sorely mistaken. In fact, here’s a whole page of cases where the ACLU defended Christians when the government tried to impede on their religious freedom: [www.aclu.org]

      Get your facts straight about the intent of the ACLU. Don’t just make stuff up to suit your agenda.

      [www.aclu.org]

  82. bagumpity says:

    Petty dictators in pretty pants suits.

  83. BrianDaBrain says:

    There’s some pretty shoddy crap that I read about on this site, but that might take the cake for the worst customer treatment I’ve ever heard of. It’s obvious that the stewardess was made uncomfortable with his ethnicity (read: a bigot), and that caused her to not only yell at him, but get physical by shoving him around. Then he’s arrested, his background checked, treated like a criminal the entire way, then bullied into pleading guilty… that’s just disgusting. It seems that there were a whole slew of people here that dropped the ball on this one. I’d probably go after the agents/officers who interrogated him too. Correct me if I’m wrong, but making threats to get a confession in an interrogation is illegal. WTH is wrong here? Have we become so paranoid and insecure as a country that we have to run around treating our own citizens like this?

  84. AnastasiaNuddles says:

    I read through every comment on here and just had to set things straight.

    Everyone keeps talking about not knowing about breaking a law about standing in the aisle while the flight crew uses the lavatory, which is not the only reason why the man was arrested at LAS. He was arrested for not following a crew member’s instructions, which, as stated at the beginning of every flight “it is federal law to follow all lighted placards and crew member instructions.” She told him to go back to his seat, and he, in his own words, tried to push past her, which yes, can be seen as a threat to the aircraft, no matter who the person may be.

    There are THREE lavatories on a Southwest Airlines 737. While he could have been directed to the rear of the aircraft, I’m sure his persistence in not following the crew’s instructions didn’t make them decide to be as helpful as possible.

    The claims of racism are absolutely absurd and extremely over-hyped by the doctor. Who cares that he moved from India almost 40 years ago? This wasn’t why the flight attendant was doing her job. On every flight I have been on where the flight crew needs to use the lavatory, the flight attendants always block the front of the aircraft from the first row on, the Captain or FO leaves the cockpit, and the front remains blocked off until he is back inside and the flight deck door is secured. On most flights (United, Continental, Northwest) they block the aisle with a serving cart, but WN doesn’t use them so the crew must stand there to block the way. It doesn’t even matter if the flight crew was using the lavatory or not, NO ONE can stand in the front of the aircraft while the forward lavatory is in use.

    I’m probably the last person to stand up and defend the outrageous security procedures of the US Government, but when I see airline crew members doing their job properly, I will not stand back and watch person after person bash this poor woman for doing what any flight attendant in the country would do. It doesn’t matter what may or may not happen, these are FAA regulations and the flight crew is required to follow them.

  85. nrwfos says:

    I can’t possibly read all these posts – but I can only say (or repeat anyone else who’s said this) : Welcome to the new ‘rights’ and ‘freedoms’ under the Patriot Act”

  86. Jesse in Japan says:

    If federal law requires that no passenger leave his or her seat when the pilot is out of the cockpit, then the pilot REALLY needs to go on the intercom and say, “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m going to be going to the bathroom for a minute or two so please remain in your seats until I’m down.”

  87. coolkiwilivin says:

    You pinhead, as a minority, I hate it when the racecard is thrown out when there is nothing in this situation that denotes race was an issue. Calling people bigots when their actions aren’t bigoted demeans people who truly suffer from bigotry. I’ve had people treat me badly, some because I’m a minority that’s bigotry. Others because they just didn’t like me. They didn’t like my race, they didn’t like me. That’s a personal choice but NOT bigotry. Read the last post. I’ve been on a plane where they made the announcement about not coming to the front b/c of the pilot. He made a mistake but b/c the crew member did their job does NOT make them a bigot.

  88. Anonymous says:

    Crews are required to keep passengers from approaching the flight deck while the door is open. Period. The F/A told the Doctor several times that he can’t come forward, but he decided that he was above listening to A: a woman, B: a flight Attendant or both. Instead of going back to his seat calmly, he had to be restrained after nearly knocking the F/A down to try to get past her to the open flight deck door, a threatening and stupid thing to do. The F/A should have been commended, which I believe, she was, by her airline. Doctor: accept your responsiblity in this. Tell the whole story.

    Screw him for being stupid. Cudo’s to her for doing what the FAA requires.

  89. monzo says:

    I just canceled a flight I had on Southwest after reading this story on another site. I refuse to give money to this Airline if this is how they treat the people who keep them in Business.
    All of these airlines and the TSA need to be put in their place. Amtrack is looking more and more attractive.

    • harrier666 says:

      If you think a flight attendant on any other airline will let you approach the front repeatedly after telling you not to, and then not have you arrested after you try to push past her to get to the lav, enjoy driving.

  90. PsiCop says:

    I’ve flown a lot of times … Southwest and other airlines … but I have never, ever heard an instruction that passengers cannot get up if the pilot is in the lav. It’s a new one on me. As for it being a “federal law” the airline is only just now enforcing, I call “BS” on that. Airlines frequently claim that a policy they came up with themselves … even an ad hoc one like this, something no one had ever been told before … is a “federal law.” This is, in fact, usually a lie, and everyone knows it.

    Would be nice if they stopped using that lie to quell people, but they won’t.

  91. harrier666 says:

    As a pilot, I am acutely aware of what happened on Sept 11. I work for an airline that lost two planes that day. The new rules are mentioned at the beginning of every flight regarding the front lavs and forming lines. We don’t broadcast when the pilots are using the lav, as there is no reason to draw attention to it.

    I am not justifying the FA’s behavior per se. She should have offered the alternative and suggested he use a lav in the back. But when we are outside the cockpit, we are trained, and sometimes armed, to stop ANY possible attempt to breach the cockpit. We do not, will not, will never let 9/11 happen again to any extent possible. I have no patience for anyone that violates these rules. I can’t. There are people on board who are trained to watch for suspicious behavior. It is far better that he was yelled at, then physically restrained on board.

    If I see anyone approaching the front of the aircraft when they shouldn’t be, and they do not respond to the flight attendants request to sit down or use an alternate lav, I am fully ready to take any action necessary. I am not alone. You can complain about it all day, but this is our lives. The reality of what happened is never far from our minds. We lost friends that day. FAs are trained to keep the area clear when pilots are in the lav without drawing unneeded attention to it. I am sorry this situation happened, but nothing about it sounds racially motivated. He tried to walk past her. At this point, he is considered a threat to the security of the cockpit. Guess what a bad guy is going to do? Exactly what this guy did. Respect that the flight crew is trying to keep your asses from going into a building ever again. It may seem over the top, and there may have been a better way to handle it, but he admits to pushing past her. Regardless of your knowledge of the actual law regarding the lavs, every passenger is told repeatedly to obey the flight attendants. She said sit down. Sit the fuck down.

  92. harrier666 says:

    Also, everyone is taking the Doctors letter as gospel. It is his side of the story. We don’t ever hear the FAs nor the airlines. A judge did. Do you honestly believe there is no other side?

  93. harrier666 says:

    For some reason, more than any other industry I can think of, the general public think they know more about a pilot or flight attendants job than any other. I don’t know if it is the post 9/11 world, the media, or the accessibility. If I sat behind your desk at work and criticized every move you made, every call you took, every game of minesweeper you played, how long would you last?

    There is more going on in that aircraft than the public understands. By the comments here, many grok this and draw logical conclusions. But many others want to blame someone because traveling is a hassle these days. Taking it out on the flight crew is an easy target.

    I wish we could explain a lot of what we do, but we are often restricted for many reasons. I wish people recognized the difficultly of our jobs and how many times a day we save your life. Just yesterday, three of my friends experienced in flight emergencies and landed their planes without incident due to their training and skill. Flying is as safe as it is because we know what we are doing. We have our lives threatened weekly. Not by terrorists, but by passengers. I had a woman tell me she was going to kill my family because our flight was canceled after the inbound aircraft suffered a lightning strike. We landed without incident; however, felt it was unsafe to fly again. But we also know that the bad guys are still out there.

    Hear both sides of a story first and think through it before throwing the book at the FA. His/her daily job is something most people can’t and don’t want to understand. Hint: It isn’t slinging drinks all day.