AA flight diverted after business class passenger calls cabin crew ‘waiter’

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Who knew that words have the power to divert a flight?

An American Airlines flight from New York’s John F Kennedy Airport (JFK) to Cheddi Jagan International Airport (GEO) in Georgetown, Guyana, was turned back after a heated verbal exchange between a flight attendant and a business class passenger. 

Flight AA 2557 took off on time on July 18, 2023. However, 45 minutes after takeoff, the flight’s pilot made a decision to return the plane to JFK to offload a passenger.

What happened?

Every story has two sides, and American Airlines kept its side simple. The airline told local outlet Stabroek News that the flight had returned to JFK because of a “disruptive customer”.

The “disruptive customer” is Joel Ghansham, a TV personality and cultural activist in India, and had a much longer version, providing more detail in an interview on YouTube:

Ghansham said that he recently underwent neck and eye surgeries, so when he boarded the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, he asked a flight attendant to help him place his bag in the overhead bin.

According to Ghasham, the flight attendant said, “I don’t get paid that kind of money but if you don’t like it there is always another flight.”

Another flight attendant in the business class cabin eventually helped Ghasham with his bags.

The tension between Ghasham and the snappy flight attendant continued during meal service.

Ghasham said that the flight attendant took his drink order by leaning from the row behind him and asked, “Do you want something to drink?” in an abrasive manner.

Ghansham replied to the flight attendant, saying, “No thank you, waiter.”

The flight attendant then told Ghansham, “I have the power to turn the plane”, to which Ghansham said, “You must be God so you do it.”

Moments later, the flight’s pilot announced that the plane was returning to JFK airport.

Ghansham was then offloaded from the flight.

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