Couple Sues Alaska Airlines After Alleged Bathroom Altercation Gets Them A Police Escort From Plane

Consumers generally fly first class for the perks: more leg room, bigger seats, a restroom shared with fewer people and being escorted off the plane into police custody. Wait, that last one doesn’t sound right, yet a couple flying from Las Vegas to Portland received just that after an alleged squabble with an Alaska Airline flight attendant over the use of the first class restroom. Now, the couple is suing the airline for humiliation, among other things.

The couple is seeking $11,498 from the airline, claiming the flight attendant injured the woman and was acting purely out of spite when she had the couple taken into police custody, The Oregonian reports.

According to the lawsuit, the ordeal began when the couple was flying first class from Las Vegas home to Portland on February 16.

The woman needed to use the restroom, but passengers from coach kept walking up to use the one in first class. While the woman waited her turn, she asked the flight attendant if she would make an announcement stating that passengers were only to use the restrooms in their assigned cabins – a fairly typical rule on flights.

The plaintiff claims the attendant refused the request and became “snippy.” When the woman was finally able to use the bathroom, the flight attendant slammed the door shut, allegedly injuring the woman’s shoulder, The Oregonian reports.

The couple asked for the flight attendant’s name to file a complaint. Instead they received a form stating the couple had created an in-flight disturbance by verbally assaulting the employee and would be escorted from the plane.

Upon landing passengers were asked to remain seated while Port of Portland police boarded the flight to remove the couple.

Police released the couple after about 30 minutes of questioning, and determined there was no criminal wrongdoing.

According to the suit, the woman suffered a rotator cuff injury and impingement syndrome, which required about two months of physical therapy.

In all, the couple is suing the airline for $1,498 in medical expenses, $7,000 for non-economic damages for pain, suffering and inconvenience, and $3,000 for humiliation suffered from being taken into custody.

A spokesperson for the airline declined comment to the Oregonian regarding the case.

Alaska Airlines restroom-use squabble leads to wrongful detainment, $11,500 lawsuit claims [The Oregonian]

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  1. GoldHillDave says:

    As it stands, flight attendants can do virtually anything they want. Passengers have to take it, because they know that if they object at all they will be kicked off the plane, or hauled away in handcuffs on arrival, for “interfering with a flight crew”. If this couple’s suit succeeds it may change things just a bit, which would be a good thing.

    • CzarChasm says:

      I would be shocked if this suit succeeds, first of all, suing for non economic damages is mostly just a thing for TV. Second, the airline, if it determines they may have any liability at all, will settle out of court and include a stipulation that they never talk about this again.

      I do agree with you however on the airlines having waaaaaay too much power.

      • GnRJosh says:

        And if it was me, I’d reject the settlement offer and ask for a jury trial. I’ve witnessed on several flights power-drunk flight attendants refuse the most simplest of requests and threaten to tell the captain that they were being disruptive if they continued to ask. In one instance I’m talking something extremely minor (a second pillow for their broken arm to be propped up with so they could try to get some sleep). I’d make sure a loud-enough ruckus is raised so that airlines couldn’t just hide behind this anymore. No other industry allows their employees the power to have a customer arrested for disagreeing with them or, in this instance, making a request that really should have been a no-brainer to begin with. Why was she even allowing “steerage” into First Class to begin with? I’ve NEVER been able to use the First Class lavatory when the ones in Coach were occupied. I had to wait.

        • CzarChasm says:

          The problem is, in our legal system, if you are given an offer and then lose at the jury trial, you could be required to pay the legal fees of the defendant.

          Sure, if you have a whole ton of money and time to waste, this might be viable, but very few people do, and those that due, usually fly charter planes anyway.

  2. LooseSasquatch says:

    Say what you will about this suit, but ~$11k isn’t so bad. I feel like a lot of people would be suing for millions for emotional distress (like that Judge in DC who wanted to sue for like 20 million because a dry cleaner lost his pants, wtf).

    Also, yes, flight attendants do have way too much power. This is why they just need to have air marshalls on every flight who are actually sky police to handle this sort of thing. . .

    • CzarChasm says:

      The judge in your example (Pearson) lost, and lost his judgeship, was fined $12,000 and was sued for $83,000 in court costs.

      The problem with your idea is that on any given day there are roughly 87,000 flights in the US. If you are paying each of these people a starting salary of $50,000 a year you are looking at an expense of 4,350,000,000. This does not include a penny for benefits, retirement, or time off.