Woman Switches Seats on Plane, Spends 3 Days in Jail

Jean Mamakos says flight attendants overreacted
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 26, 2014 8:33 AM CST

A 68-year-old woman is suing United Airlines for $5 million because, she says, she spent three days in jail simply because she switched seats on a plane. Jean Mamakos of New York had changed planes in Seattle en route to Alaska, and after the doors closed for takeoff, she attempted to move to an empty row. Flight attendants told her that if she wanted to sit in the emergency exit row seat, she would need to pay for an upgrade. "At that point, I decided no, I'm not paying $109 and went back to my seat," Mamakos tells CBS New York. But once there, she says, "I heard the captain say there is a lady who wants to get off the plane on this flight. So we have to wait. I didn't know that was me."

She says flight attendants surrounded her and demanded she exit the plane; she refused. Police were eventually called, and they arrested her for trespassing when she still refused to budge, since she had paid thousands in airfare costs for what was supposed to be a ski trip. "They did handcuff me. There were three policemen who dragged me off the plane," ripping her jeans in the process, she says. After her booking, fingerprinting, and mug-shot-taking, she spent three days in county jail as her bags—and her ski club friends—continued on. The incident took place in March 2013, the New York Post reports. (This week, a flier who was grumpy over being wished "Merry Christmas" got thrown off a plane.)

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