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Passenger charged after refusing to get off cell and JetBlue faces a toilet travel suit

Posted by Paul Makishima, Globe Assistant Sunday Editor  May 13, 2008 09:29 AM

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Welcome to another episode of: You Can't Make This Stuff Up. First up is the case of the airline passenger from Austin, Texas, charged with disorderly conduct after refusing to get off the wireless during a Southwest flight from Austin to The Big D.
According to the Dallas Morning News, flight attendants repeated asked the passenger -- one Joe David Jones, president and CEO of an Austin environmental start-up called Skyonic -- to please shut the phone down, as the FCC prohibits in-flight wireless calls.
Turns out Mr. Jones, apparently a black belt of witty repartee, nearly a Shakespeare of the clever comeback, reportedly responded: "Kiss my [expletive]." When asked for clarification, Mr. Jones, fearing his terse and pithy mots juste had not been properly recorded for future generations, repeated, "Kiss my [expletive]." Then delivering a linguistic coup de grace, he finished with: "Not happening.''
Mr. Jones remained on the phone for 20 minutes and when Dallas police later met him at the gate to question him displayed disorderly conduct and was charged with a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500, according to police reports.
For his part, Mr. Jones, through a representative, explained that he was on the phone because he had been trying to reach officials in a cardiac unit after getting a message his father's heart had stopped.
Beth Harbin, a Southwest spokeswoman, was sympathetic but said, "It was a safety regulation that we're required to enforce, and we're simply not in a position to make exceptions."


Next up, we consider the case of the New Yorker who is suing JetBlue for more than $2 million because he says a pilot made him give up his seat to a flight attendant and sit on the toilet during a flight from California.
The man says that the pilot told him to "go 'hang out' in the bathroom" about 90 minutes into a Feb. 23 San Diego-to-New York flight because a flight attendant complained that the “jump seat” she was assigned was uncomfortable.
This is the way it unfolded, according to the AP's reading of court papers.
Gokhan Mutlu had a "buddy pass," a standby voucher that JetBlue employees give to friends. He was told a flight attendant had taken the last seat on the plane, but later was told she would sit in the employee "jump seat" so he could have it. Eventually, she complained; he was forced to give the seat up and told he couldn't take her place in the jump seat because only employees could sit there. Mutlu got upset and the pilot allegedly responded that he "should be grateful for being on board."
During the flight the aircraft hit turbulence and passengers were told to return to their seats, but since Mutlu had none he ended up retiring to the restroom. Some time later, a flight attendant knocked on the door and told Mutlu he could return to his original seat.
JetBlue officials have declined to comment.

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