Passenger Sues Virgin America After Contentious Soda Order Gets Him Detained At Airport

What began as a dispute about ordering an in-flight soda apparently got to the point where the crew on a Virgin America jet felt that a passenger needed to be questioned by authorities upon landing. Now that passenger has sued the airline, alleging that Virgin America made false accusations about his behavior.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports on the lawsuit, filed last week in a U.S. District Court, and seeking $500,000 in damages.

The plaintiff says that during a flight in April 2012, he attempted to order a soda from a flight attendant during a flight from Philadelphia to San Francisco. The flight attendant instructed the passenger to use his seat’s touch screen to place his order.

The passenger replied that he didn’t want to use the screen. He once again asked for a soda, but the attendant walked away. He tried one more time with a second attendant, but no luck. When he finally threatened to complain to the airline, he says he finally received the soda he wanted.

After that, he claims that nothing else happened during the rest of the flight.

After the incident, a flight attendant told police that the passenger had replied, “My time is precious — you are here to serve me,” when instructed to order via the touch screen.

The police report also contains recollections from Virgin America staff that the passenger later used the lavatory, but left the toilet un-flushed and exited the room “with a smile on his face and began using profanities.”

When the plane landed in San Francisco, the passenger was detained and questioned by authorities before being released. At the time, he denied the attendants’ claims that he’d cursed at them or left the toilet un-flushed.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.