CBS2 Exclusive: LI Woman Sues United Airlines Following Arrest On Flight

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island woman claims she was treated like a criminal and pulled off of a flight just because she wanted to change seats.

As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported exclusively, the in-flight fight turned into a three-day stay in jail for the woman.

“They did handcuff me, there were three policemen that dragged me out of the plane,” said Jean Mamakos. (And did they tell you what they were charging you with?) They said trespassing.”

Mamakos, 68, of Huntington, held up her jeans to show where they were ripped, she says as she was pulled down the aisle of the plane. She never made it to her ski trip in Alaska.

Police in Seattle, where Mamakos and her ski club were changing planes, were called aboard the United aircraft to arrest her, McLogan reported.

One of the passengers recorded the incident.

Officer: “Do you want to come willingly or be arrested for trespass?”

Mamakos: “Whatever you have to do.”

Officer: “OK.”

Mamakos said she resisted the arrest because she had paid thousands in airfare for the round trip flight, and claims unfriendly flight attendants overreacted when she tried to move to an empty row after the doors closed for take off.

It was the third leg of a long cross-country trip, and she hoped to sleep.

LI Woman Sues United Airlines Following Arrest On Flight

exclusive2 CBS2 Exclusive: LI Woman Sues United Airlines Following Arrest On Flight
Sophia Hall reports

“One of the stewardesses said ‘Oh no you don’t.’ Which stopped me in my tracks,” she said.

So Mamakos moved toward the front of the plane.

“So I went forward and then another stewardess came along and said ‘Give me your credit card,'” she said.

Mamakos, a registered nurse, was in an empty exit row emergency seat and was told this would be a costly upgrade.

“At that point I decided no, I’m not paying $109 and I’ll go back to my seat,” she said.

Seated now, resigned to her crowded row, an announcement was made.

“I heard the captain say ‘There is a lady that wants to get off the plane on this flight, so we have to wait,” she said.

Flight attendants then surrounded her.

“And said ‘You have to get off this plane.’ And I said ‘no, I paid for this seat and I’m going to stay here,'” she said.

Mamakos was eventually booked, fingerprinted and had her mug shot taken before she was sent to the county jail. Her bags and her shocked friends went on to Alaska.

“They enjoyed their ski trip and I had an experience in jail,” Mamakos said.

Her attorney, Patricia Swicicki, said Mamakos spent three harrowing days in jail because courts weren’t open on the weekend. They are suing United Airlines for $5 million.

United acknowledged the lawsuit and said it may be tried in Brooklyn federal court.

The airline won’t comment on the case, but said federal law requires pre-flight briefing for anyone seated in emergency rows, and added that balance and weight safety regulations prevent onboard seat changes.

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