Disagree with a flight attendant? You're a terrorist

Dirk McQuigley of Daily Kos has an enraging editorial about the practice of flight crews punishing unruly passengers by having them put on terrorist watch-list. I had this happen to me once, on the way to my wedding in Toronto in October. My wife made to put the baby on the floor in front of our seat for a while so she could play, and a flight attendant told her it was absolute iron-clad British Airways policy that babies had to be in reach of the ceiling oxygen masks at all time. My wife pointed out that we'd let the baby play on the floor of many BA planes in the past 10 months, and it probably wasn't practical to expect the kid to go 10 hours without a little floor-time. The flight attendant was insistent, and my wife, in exasperation, said, "OK, but it's bullshit."

A minute later, the purser steamed around the bulkhead, in full dudgeon -- "You've violated our zero-tolerance policy for 'abusive language' and I can have you arrested and taken off the plane when we land if you don't stop it." It went downhill from there, with him vowing to have our "BA flier records" changed to note that we were "abusive passengers" so that every flight we took from now on would involve increased scrutiny and strictness. Needless to say, when I called BA later, they apologized and swore that there was no such record, and needless to say, we weren't arrested when we landed.

So I'd assumed that he was just a little puffed-up martinet making idle threats, but it appears we got off lucky. According to this, plenty of passengers who disagreed with a flight crew are now classed as "terrorists" in international databases and subject to incredible hassle and are even at risk of being detained when they fly.

Not a bad business to be in: for most companies, all they can do when a customer has an argument with a rep is ask them to leave. Airlines get to punish their customers by having them arrested as terrorists. I guess we're lucky the record industry doesn't have the same ability.

Take the case of Tamera Jo Freeman. Traveling from Los Angeles to Oklahoma City in 2007. Freeman gave each of her children three whacks on the backside when they spilled her airplane Bloody Mary in her lap.
A flight attendant confronted Freeman, who responded by hurling a few profanities and throwing what remained of a can of tomato juice on the floor.

The incident aboard the Frontier flight ultimately led to Freeman's arrest and conviction for a federal felony defined as an act of terrorism under the Patriot Act, the controversial federal law enacted after the 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.

"I had no idea I was breaking the law," said Freeman, 40, who spent three months in jail before pleading guilty.

Worse than that, Freeman lost custody of her children as a result of the conviction. Moreover, she was barred from flying and her probation required her to stay within Oklahoma which effectively prevented her from traveling to Hawaii for a custody hearing.

The severity of the incident was disputed by a witness that happened to also be a defense attorney. The attorney said that initially there was a loud exchange but Freeman calmed down BEFORE she became unruly. The attorney said that he sympathized with Freeman.

Patriot Act, DHS and who is a "terrorist" (Thanks, Patrick)


  1. Good grief! It used to be the policy of airlines to put babies on the floor on long flights, and they’d give you a little cardboard box in which to place your sleeping baby. This is infuriating.

  2. I’ll start with the obligatory outrage. OMG, how could they, etc.

    Now on to the interesting part. “A flight attendant… responded by… throwing what remained of a can of tomato juice on the floor.”

    What?! That puts this entire story in context! What kind of nutjob flight attendant would march up to a passenger and, for want of anything else to do, chuck a can of tomato juice on the floor?

    And now for the fact that should have us all truly outraged: there’s no footage on YouTube.

  3. This might not be as cut and dry as the blurbs from the LA Times suggests.

    From affidavits posted at http://www.popehat.com/2009/01/22/2793/

    3. The Denver Police Department immediately responded to the plane when itarrived at DIA and removed Tamera Freeman and her children, ages 2 and 4, from the plane. Additional law enforcement agents and I responded to DIA and interviewed the flight attendants, pilots and several passengers. Interviews of the witnesses and the victim flight attendant, Amy Fleming, revealed the following:

    – Tamera Freeman appeared intoxicated and violent towards her children before she boarded the flight in San Francisco;

    – During the flight, Freeman was observed by several passengers drinking additional alcohol and becoming verbally and physically abusive to her children;

    -The passengers sitting near Freeman went to the flight attendants about this problem. When Flight Attendant (FA) Amy Fleming approached Freeman regarding her actions, Freeman became verbally abusive towards FA Fleming, demanding that FA Fleming mind her own business and provide her another alcoholic beverage;

    -When denied further alcohol, Freeman threw a drink on the ground at FA Fleming. At one point, Freeman followed FA Fleming into a common area and began yelling and pointing her finger at FA Fleming. These actions by Freeman threatened FA Fleming to the point that FA Fleming moved into a defensive stance. FA Fleming talked Freeman into returning to her seat;

    -FA Fleming, because of Freeman’s actions towards her and Freeman’s children, requested that a corrections officer who was a passenger on the plane assist by sitting near Freeman;

    -FA Fleming also obtained restraining tape and had to physically stand near Freeman to prevent her from causing more problems on the flight or further assaulting her children;

    -Freeman’s actions prevented FA Fleming from performing her other duties as a flight attendant, which she then had to assign to other flight attendants.

    4. I reviewed several statements provided by passengers seated near Freeman and her children. They provided the following information regarding Freeman’s assaults on the children:

    -Amy Grant observed Freeman hitting her children repeatedly and yelling profanities at her children and at the flight attendants. She observed Freeman swing with an opened hand down at the children and heard the children crying
    after being struck;

    -Carolyn DeRyder observed Freeman slapping her daughter on the legs 4 to 5 times, as well as yelling profanities at the children and the flight attendants. Deryder also observed Freeman drinking alcohol and throwing a drink on the floor
    at the flight attendants’s feet;

    -In the San Francisco airport prior to the departure of the flight, Katie Shanahan observed Freeman drop her son on his back and head on the ground when he did not want to go to the bathroom with her. Freeman left her son on the ground crying for several minutes;

    -Dianne Delverstoni was the passenger who first approached the flight attendants regarding Freeman’s assaultive behavior toward the children. She observed Freeman hitting her son several times “over and over”, using profanity to the flight attendant, and throwing a drink;

    -Maria Aldeguer observed Freeman drinking alcohol on the flight, cursing and screaming at her children, and hitting the children with open fists on their shoulders and knees;

    -Carrie Storin, who was sitting in front of Freeman on the flight, heard Freeman hitting her children “the entire flight”, to the point where the children were trying to hide in a comer and on the floor;

    -David Shipman stated that he observed Freeman hit her children with a closed fist during the flight.

    and further in the comments:

    Records from the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center show a Tamera Freeman with the same birth date as the woman arrested in Denver was found guilty of abusing a family or household member in 2005 and sentenced to 30 days in jail and a year of probation.

    So while the airlines are undoubtedly abusing the Patriot Act and branding argumentative people as terrorists, this example may not be so clear cut.

  4. This exact same thing happened to my brother two weeks ago in Denver. The difference is my brother is a Master Sargent in the US Army who spent three of the last five years in Iraq.

    He recently had back surgery and now has three fused vertebrae and two titanium rods back there. When he squeezed into one of those sadistically small coach class seats the first word out of his mouth was an F-bomb so they tossed him off the plane.

    Way to reward our G.I.s Southwest.

  5. There are disputes as to what actually happened with Freeman…the attorney that was on her side was actually offering his services and probably would be on her side.

    I remember when this case came out, and both sides were extreme, Freemans was that she was polite and merely brushed her hand across her sons ass to remind him to be good, and others claiming she was drunk off her ass threatening to stop spanking the child and throw the flight attendant over her leg and beat her into submission too.

    Considering the extremes, from impartial witnesses on both sides (passengers not staff), I’d imagine it somewhere in the middle.

    Should she lose her kids and be considered a terrorist for a drunken rage even if the prosecution is correct? Hell, no…I have to drink heavily to get on an airplane too so I’m sympathetic. On a flight to LA last week, I nearly got into a fight with some jerk that decided his vastly oversized carryon luggage should go where my moderately packed laptop case and threatened to throw it if I did not move it. It was not his lucky day…I had just enough drinks in me to tell him that if he didn’t put it down I was going to rip his one nut off and feed it to him. I needs me drink to get on a flying death trap and ya get what ya get…I wouldn’t consider myself a terrorist either, yet a flight attendant had to ask both of us to sit down and made both hold our bags the rest of the trip. Actually pretty professional considering the circumstances.

    The point is, there is one side to every dispute…and for some reason Cory always seems to be on the side of Eberyone No Be Doin’s Nuffin And The PoPo Just Tryin’ To Assert They Athoritys. At the same time, I’m constantly reminded BB is not a journalistic site, so thats cool…

  6. This is why “terrorist” laws are not only unneeded, but unnecessary and dangerous. If she is a an abusive drunk i.e. a criminal, which I suggest all terrorists are just criminals, then there are already too many criminal laws available for dealing with an abusive drunk, with abused children, on an airplane.

    Both the War on Terror and the War on Drugs should be abandoned. Drugs, ALL DRUGS, should be legalized, and so-called “terrorists” should be arrested and imprisoned like common criminals. These political/religious organizations that use violence or threats of violence are no different than any other large well funded criminal organization. By the way, in many cases both groups depend on drug money for funding. By legalizing drugs, and bringing producers and distributors out into the open, these criminal organizations will lose some of their funding.

  7. LULZ!! Clif, you so crazy! But in this case, you also so right.

    I can’t speak to the legality of what she did, but getting drunk on a plane and smacking your kids is definitely grounds for getting on my SHIT list, and that lands you firmly in the category of “You’ll take whatever effing punishment you’re offered and it will be doubled if you bitch about it. Sit down. Don’t open your mouth again, even to yell fire. We’ll be there in 19 hours.”

    I’m all in love with my civil libs as much as anyone, but the simple fact is if I’m in a tight space and someone gets all loud and uppity about anything, I want to deal with that problem myself in the sense that I want to make it STFU. Multiply that by 200 people on a plane and by giving this lush the verbal beat-down, the flight attendant may have been protecting her life.

    The fact of the matter is, just like driving more efficient cars, turning off the water whilst brushing our teeth, and making sure that the plastics don’t get in with the refuse, by agreeing to live in tight spaces we have agreed to a CIVIL RESPONSIBILITY to make sure that our actions do not impede upon the physical or psychological well-being of those around us. Unless you’re Rush Limbaugh, and then you can do WTFYW.

    You don’t hafs to agree. Unless we’s trapped in a tight space an you’s being all rudeness, an you’s smaller dan me’s. An trus’ me; you’s smaller dan me’s.

  8. Well, whether or not the Freeman example is clear cut, I think we can all agree that she wasn’t a terrorist, yes?

    Which I think was the point.

  9. Off Topic: RAYCEEYA, If I were aboard an airplane with my family and immediately after entering the plane, someone yelled F**K! – I’d want him to be removed.

    On Topic: There needs to be a different list for air lines to place unruly passengers, maybe a ‘Do Not Serve Alcohol to This Passenger,’ list, or a ‘Tell This Passenger to Take a Xanax,’ list. Placing them on a Terrorist list will hopefully get the airline’s asses sued off.


    Yes I think we can agree she is not a terrorist; which is why I propose we create a “jerk” watchlist – which Freeman would then be put on. People on the Jerk-watchlist would be announced as Jerks when the enter the plane, the only seating they would be permitted is that crappy middle seat with no window or aisle. Jerks would always be sat next to other Jerks, or if no other Jerks are available, then a very large Skymarshall so that they are squished further into their seats. Jerks can get off the Jerk-watchlist by doing 100 hours of community service in a watchlist approved manner.

    I know I’d appreciate this, as I often been put next to Jerks, and always appreciate the advance notice so I can drop all pretenses of civility earlier rather than later.

  11. FoetusNail,
    Did you just add 4-5 topics, completely unrelated to this thread, into the discussion? lol – You don’t mess around do you? There’s nothing like a good argument to get the blood flowing in the morning.

  12. Everything I’ve read about airport security and terrorism charges shows me that The Powers That Be are missing some perspective. I strongly disagree with any kind of “zero tolerance” policy. It disregards real life and human nature. Rayceeya’s post about his/her brother shows this. People sometime say or do things out in the real world that may not be absolutely correct in the circumstances, but that doesn’t mean they have criminals intent. My advice to the airline and TSA people- look at the whole situation and stop trying to enforce the letter of the law.

  13. From my own experiences of flying with BA I now only fly with them out of complete necessity. Their service and staff are appalling in my view and it is only monopoly of some major routes that keeps them in business.

    As a point, how can an infant ‘be in reach of an oxygen point at all times’? Typical bull from BA again.

    The issue of someone being classified as a ‘terrorist’ for anti-social behaviour by someone who is not trained/qualified to do so and then placed on a no fly list is a legal minefield. There are many extenuating circumstances – low air quality (a common issue to save fuel on long haul), agitation caused by lack of space/mobility, defective seating and so on. Add to this that many passengers can be darn right rude and you have a simmering kettle.

    My particular beef is the tipping back of a seat. There have been studies (somewhere I cannot find this currently) that the incline of the seat is of little use and that the upright position is better. On several occasions I have had my face hit, a laptop screen cracked, and a drink spilled due to a passenger in front of me tipping the seat back without consideration.

    Gotta love flying…

  14. @ #2, you’re reading that wrong, it’s not:
    “A flight attendant… responded by… throwing what remained of a can of tomato juice on the floor.”

    “A flight attendant confronted Freeman. FREEMAN responded by hurling a few profanities and throwing what remained of a can of tomato juice on the floor.”

    Makes sense since it was Freeman who was drinking the bloody mary.

  15. Perhaps the airlines would change their staff’s behaviour if there was an organised effort by customers. A rolling boycott of airline companies by enough people would send a clear message. For example, a website could identify a troublesome airline, and for that month, people would attempt to avoid it by going with competitors or alternative transport if possible. The next month, a new troublesome airline could be chosen.

    With profits on the line, staff might quickly find themselves facing a little retraining to put a damper on Napolean complexes.

    (I myself don’t fly more than once every few years, so I’m already doing my part).

  16. @TheChickenandtherice:

    Re:>>Now on to the interesting part. “A flight attendant… responded by… throwing what remained of a can of tomato juice on the floor.”

    …What kind of nutjob flight attendant would march up to a passenger and…chuck a can of tomato juice on the floor?< < The passenger threw the can of juice on the floor, not the FA

  17. @ #3, Well done. That’s some useful information, right there. :)

    @ #2, Woah, man. Did you really just say “I’ll start with the (…) nutjob (…) tomato juice (…) footage on Youtube.”

    What are you even talking about? “Nutjob tomato juice footage?” You’re clearly out of your mind.

  18. This is what happens when you give under-trained (under-educated seems a bit presumptuous) workers at the bottom of the corporate food-chain an incredible amount of power (to add passengers to the terror watch list on little more than the say-so of the flight attendant).

    Is it right – absolutely not.

    Should it be tolerated – absolutely not.

    Am I suprised by this – unfortunately, absolutely not.

    The answer likely lies in giving flight attendants some recourse for unruly passengers, the polar extremes of either giving out an extra bag of pretzels to good passengers or adding bad passengers to the terror watch list (a.k.a. the (until-recently imaginary) Permanent Record your teachers always warned you about in school), is terribly inadequate.

    To make sure my response is clear, I’ll repeat two points made above:

    Is it right – absolutely not.

    Should it be tolerated – absolutely not.

  19. Is she a terrorist? No. But there should be an even worse list for people who yell profanities at their own kids. Until that list exists, the terrorist list will have to do.

  20. You might want to use a better example of the abuses of the “terrorist watch list” than a drunken, abusive, screaming out-of-control woman who can’t stop beating her kids in public. While she may not be the dictionary definition of the word “terrorist”, this alcoholic was certainly terrorizing her children and the flight attendants, as well as the other passengers. So the Patriot Act was used “wrongly” to get a child beater away from her kids. (which if you read beyond the L.A. Times misleading article, it wasn’t)And the problem is…?

  21. @7 MADFIST: Damn right.

    I travel way too much and have seen way too many screaming, rude, drunk, obnoxious idiots to feel too bad when one of them gets a smack down.

    As for what happened to Cory, yeah, I understand your pain, and I also believe that it should have been handled differently. Clearly some common courtesy was in line from the people who are (in theory) offering you a service. Clearly the sophomoric threats issued to you and your wife were out of line as well. Furthermore, I am willing to believe that you acted just as you say — you seem like a nice guy in your posts, anyway.

    So with all of that, let us assume that an emergency did happen, and because you and your family refused to pay attention to safety guidelines, that some harm did come to your child. Nine hundred and ninety-nine people out of a thousand would turn around a sue the pants of the airlines. You and I both know that is true. Now you might be above that. But you can hardly blame the airlines for playing it safe.

  22. @ Tom Hale:

    “Off Topic: RAYCEEYA, If I were aboard an airplane with my family and immediately after entering the plane, someone yelled F**K! – I’d want him to be removed.”

    I hate to tell you this, dude, but if this is true, you’re clearly part of the problem. I would refer you to George Carlin, not to mention the notion that you have no “right not to be offended”, but I fear the cause is lost.

  23. I had something similar but less severe happen to me on a Delta flight. While boarding, I argued with the person at the gate that my suit and my laptop, though two pieces, takes up less space than one large piece they were allowing on board. I tried to explain the concept of volume to her. At that point, she told me that my ticket was missing a security stamp and I had to be checked by a security agent. No one on that flight had any stamp on their ticket either. She basically ensured that I would be the last on the plane and have no overhead bin space. Luckily, my stuff were small enough that I could slide them under the seat in front of me.

    People like her reminds me of the drill sergeant from “All Quiet on the Western Front”, who was a powerless postman before the war but abused the soldiers because he suddenly had the power to. Petty, insecure people. I haven’t flown with Delta in a few years now.

  24. Yes, we are all regularly appalled and annoyed at what airlines and the TSA seem able to get away with these days, and it’s great that BB continues to post such things. After months and months of such postings, we’re all very good and well worked up into a proper and justified lather.

    But what would be really wonderful would be if, just once, we’d get such a posting as well as a very clear list/explanation of what we can legally DO to help end this kind of abuse, whether in regards to the TSA or the airlines. All we have at this point is our ire.

    1. You get what you pay for buddy. Flight Attendants took a 50% paycut and still have to do the same work. We hear you complain about no hot meals small seats full flights!! Give me a break pay 600 instead of 200 and maybe the airlines would be a nice place to travel on again!! You could also drive and pay alot more in gas and get there a week later!! Spoiled Americans! It’s all about me wah wah!!

  25. Noen @25:

    They won’t let you wear your HEV suit on the plane. Believe me, I’ve tried.

  26. The Patriot Act is rarely patriotic. I thought the whole reason we have a 7 trillion(?) or so defense budget is so that our collection of atomic weapons, tanks, guns, remote controlled aircraft and CIA agents could deal with terrorist WITHOUT implementing policies that piss off EVERYONE.

    I for one would rather go back to the lax security days before 9/11 and risk more ‘terror attacks’. Why don’t we scrap the DHLS and spend the money on something better, like recruiting more agents for the CIA and FBI, or just putting more armed guards in airports?

    Isn’t the entire reason we have the world’s largest military so we can have personal freedom? We shouldn’t have to make laws and policies that infringe upon the rights of people if we have the firepower to deal with them once they become a threat.

    I’d rather skip the charade of ‘prevention’. We shouldn’t need racial profiling to find terrorists if we just took the precaution to shoot them whenever they bothered to show up.

  27. @19 Jerkzilla – the ends justify the means, is that it? Use any abuse of power you feel like but as long as a mother who slaps/beats her children is labeled a terrorist and has her children taken away from her with no recourse, then everything is ok.

    She didn’t even get the chance to plead her case in court as she was restricted from flying to where the hearing was oh-so-conveniently and simply lost her children.

    How much of a stretch is it that YOU will be put on a terrorist list for looking the wrong way to a FA, or glancing at the cockpit and someone deciding you were casing it for a takeover. There is a reason we have a judicial system where people are innocent until PROVEN guilty.

    People spank/beat their kids all the time, if it is serious the police arrest them, social workers review the case and if it is merited then a hearing is held to decide what to do with the children. It seems to me that once you are branded a “terrorist” by a FA, you lose all of those rights. Thats a lot of power.

  28. Wow #3, it seems we now have two incredibly biased recaps of the situation. “Hit with open fists”. Is that like spanking? If you call spanking “assault” in a police report is sounds really terrible, doesn’t it?

    It seems pretty clear that we don’t actually know what happened. We have two sides of the story, one of which makes it sound like nothing really happened, and the other which makes her sound like a monster. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle…

    The real issue here is that she was denied ability to defend herself in court.

  29. I hate to tell you this, dude, but if this is true, you’re clearly part of the problem.

    FLYING ORCA, Me? the nice, quiet, polite, well mannered person is part of the problem? Shouting an expletive, especially the F-word, just after being seated in an airplane you will be stuck in for several hours along with a hundred other people would normally be considered the problem. How do you conclude that someone being offended and concerned in that situation is the problem?

  30. I believe I was put on the watch list for telling the security people that they didn’t need to strip search the gent in from of me because he was US Senator Carl Levin.

  31. “Should she lose her kids and be considered a terrorist for a drunken rage even if the prosecution is correct?”

    Yes. On the lose her kids part, not the terrorist part. Anyone who gets drunk and beats and curses her kids in public also does so in private, and not just as an isolated incident. She should loose all custody of her children.

  32. #27 “the ends justify the means, is that it?”

    Sometimes, yes. They got Al Capone for tax fraud, not being a bloodthirsty gangster. They got OJ Simpson for armed robbery, not for being a brutal murderer.

  33. The option to label someone a ‘terrorist’ is somehow reminiscent of the former Soviet Union’s policy of labeling troublesome dissidents as ‘insane’. In each case, there is little or no appeal, and once the label has been applied, the powers that be have almost limitless freedom to screw up your life.

    I think they should substitute ‘terrorist’ by that other modern bugaboo, ‘pedophile’: “You argued with a flight attendant, therefore you’re a pedophile.” It would be just as punitive, but the sheer absurdity would be that much more obvious, increasing the chances that someone might eventually come to their senses and fix the law.

  34. I had a pretty bad experience the last time I flew. I was wearing my earbuds as the plane was descending, sleeping lightly, but the iPod had long since turned off because the playlist ran out. I was rudely awakened by what I’d call a slap on the shoulder and a large male FA, who looked for all the world like a pudgier version of Jesse “The Body” Ventura, ordered me to remove the earbuds from my ears. I know that the FAA has mandated all electronic devices be turned off during takeoff and landing, which I mostly think is bullshit, but I calmly told him that the iPod was off and I preferred to keep the buds in my ears because it attenuated the engine noise. I even unplugged the cord from the iPod and showed him that it was not plugged in. He responded by grabbing the wire on the aisle side earbud and yanking it from my ear and telling me I couldn’t have them in my ears. I was understandably pretty pissed off, but I held my temper and told him that I didn’t appreciate him pulling it out of my ear and that I couldn’t see any reason at all that I should be disallowed from having them in my ears. At this point he got visibly upset and told me if I continued to resist his orders that I would be arrested at the gate if I didn’t take the earbuds out of my ears. He also demanded my name and identification, which I refused to give to him. He told me he would get my name from the passenger manifest. At this point I lost my temper and I told him I was sorry he had such a tiny penis and felt the need to order people around to assuage his giant ego. He stood there fuming for a moment, assured me that he would take it up with the proper authorities, and stormed on to the next aisle. I have to admit, I was a little nervous deplaning, but no one even gave me a second look at the gate. Maybe I got lucky.

    I was pretty upset about my treatment, especially considering I wasn’t breaking their bogus rule about portable electronic devices, and I could have just as easily been wearing earplugs, which I’m assuming he wouldn’t have tried to dig out of my ear. What a giant douche.

  35. Dear everyone – before you get outraged at how this (clearly annoying and abusive) passenger was branded a terrorist under the PATRIOT act, please follow the link posted by CSMcDonald @3.

    The indictment charged the lady with two offences

    – Interference with Flight Attendant (49 U.S.C. §46504)
    – Assault Within Special Maritime & Territorial Jurisdiction of the United States (18 U.S.C. §113 (a) (5))

    She then plea bargained down to only the first charge.

    As the link in @3’s post points out, the only role the PATRIOT act has in any relevant law is that it changes the wording of the “Interference with Flight Attendant” law as follows:

    2001 Amendments. Pub.L. 107-56, § 811(i), inserted “or attempts or conspires to do such an act,” before “shall be fined”.

    In other words, it makes attempting or conspiring to do the illegal action, also illegal.

    Perhaps the article summary should have this information added?

  36. doesn’t this work both ways?

    i mean – can’t you call the FBI/DHS and say:

    “””I believe the Flight Attendant on my flight was aiding terrorists or doing some sort of corporate espionage. I caught her taking photos of the plane’s exits, aisles and the cockpit door with her cell phone camera. she spent an unusual time in the bathroom, and when I went in after her , there was a panel next to the sink that was loose. when i caught her trying to take pictures of the plane’s mechanics with her cell phone, she suggested that i forget everything I saw or she would call me a terrorist and put me on a no-fly list, and that who would they believe — her or me? do i need to add that she wasn’t christian ? she didn’t have a crucfix necklace! “””

  37. #27: But she didn’t just “glance at the cockpit”, did she? She was drunk and beating her children and when confronted, she became violent and abusive toward the flight attendant. She spent 3 months in jail because she chose not to contest her detention. She was prosecuted under a statute that existed before the Patriot Act. The word “terror” or “terrorist” was never used in her court case, so it’s highly unlikely that she’s actually on a “terror list”. She was given probation and couldn’t leave the state, which is a standard part of being on probation. So she couldn’t get back to Hawaii where she already has a record for child abuse and beat her kids some more. Boo-hoo.

  38. If I said ‘bullshit’ to an FA and they threatened to divert the plane because of that, I would say “Yes, do that. But also explain to everyone on this plane why they are going to be delayed at a cost of maybe $10,000 to the airline, just because I said ‘bullshit’ “.

    Wonder what would happen if someone said ‘Jehovah!’

  39. For what it’s worth, as the spouse of a child psychologist who has fairly strong views about the concept of child abuse (ie: any physical assault on a child, particularly so-called “innocent spanking,” is de facto child abuse), I’d like to say, regardless of any other factor in this series of non-sequiturs, the woman deserved to have her children removed from her custody. If she can’t manage to discipline her kids without resorting to violence, and if she thinks it’s appropriate to punish them physically for what must have been an accident, and if she thinks it’s appropriate to be drinking bloody marys while trying to take care of three small children, then the kids are lucky a court intervened.

    That said, any airline personnel who threatens a passenger with being branded a terrorist just because the passenger is being an asshole, is an asshole.

    That said, any policy that keeps assholes off airplanes is a great policy as far as this frequent flier is concerned.

    So there.

  40. @#20 Babies not only don’t have to be within reach of oxygen at all times they can’t be just as with adults. Generally I agree that if you don’t follow safety regulations on your own head be it but this wasn’t about safety regulations. Anyone flying with small children needs to be served extra drinks and sweets not told they can’t put their child on the floor.

    @#13 Hotpepperman can I travel long haul with you? I never put my seat back

    I suggest we start making a few lists of our own

  41. While I agree that airline personnel are going overboard in using the threat of “being listed as a terrorist” on unhappy, possibly disruptive passengers, the woman in the article was not prosecuted under provisions of the Patriot Act that didn’t exist as law prior to 1999.
    I guess that FAs are just as unhappy as passengers are and are using whatever they have available to feel in control, etc. How many of them get stern talkings to if a passenger decides to ignore the instructions and do something against the regs? How many of them have any idea what the regs are supposed to do or control? It must be hard to be in the middle of uncontrollable events; the pilot is doing the flying, the control tower is dictating if you go or sit for another hour and the natives are revolting. Not to mention the problems of weather and mechanical engineering. I bet if we offered them duct tape by the time the plane landed most of the passengers would have silvery orbs for heads.

  42. political idiot here
    @6 foetusnail
    makes a lot of sense to me, why doesn’t it happen?
    are there just too many people with an interest in seeing the current fuck*d up state of things continue/
    anyone wanna play devil’s advocate?

  43. @29 Tom Hale, Because what offends thee is not the same as what might offend another person; thou art not the sole arbiter of what is offensive. There are those who are neither frustrated nor offended by the word “fuck;” there are those who are offended by people talking about politics; and there are those who are deeply offended by people discussing religions not their own. All of the above fall into the same practical sphere: they offend people due to the substance of speech.

    In all of the above situations thou could readily become the whipping boy of someone else’s offense. Thou art simply comforting thyself because thou wouldst not throw thyself off the plane for doing something thou don’t find offensive; but forget that under this onus other people’s offense would therefore dictate thineown expulsion.

  44. MasterGracey

    Not to get into anything, or to disagree with you in this case.. But, you seem a lot more certain of your side in this thread than in the other one about the Australian family being detained.

    The funny thing is, you were perfectly happy to hypothesize what the Australian family may have done wrong, or been in breach of this rule or that, to essentially deserve their treatment when there wasn’t any hint of wrong doing on their part. But here you are presented with two completely different accounts of the same situation, one clearly asserting wrong doing, and you have no trouble picking a side and going with it.

    How about: she may have mumbled something under her breath about blowing up the plane. Or, she could have looked like one of the 9/11 plotters.. No? Too imaginary?

    Either way, I’m not disagreeing with your position here, the passanger may be an atrocious mother for all I know, but certainly not a terrorist. Flight crews should have ZERO influence on the private ‘permanent records’ of passengers.

  45. @#40 Heydemann3 Duct tape ay – now there’s an idea. I’ll let them use it if I can use it as well. Oh no wait I think it might be on the list of things you can’t take on board.

  46. #18 Ernunnos

    Until that list exists, the terrorist list will have to do.

    NO, the ‘banned from flying with this arline’ list will do fine. You think before 9/11 there were no abusive passengers? Think no one ever got barred from flying with a particular airline?

    We do not need to support bs terrorist laws when current laws will do just fine.

  47. JerkZilla

    ..this alcoholic..


    So the Patriot Act was used “wrongly” to get a child beater away from her kids. … And the problem is…?

    That there are lots and lots of laws designed to protect children. The Patriot Act isn’t one of them (beyond children’s status as citizens, like the rest of the US populace).

    But now, this person is listed as a terrorist.. instead of an abusive mother (if indeed she is).

    By your logic:
    I own a shop, and there is a shoplifter who I know steals stuff, but I can’t catch him at it. So I claim he is abusing my kids (by his mere presence and behaviour), and I get him arrested under an appropriate law, say he’s a Child Abuser, and get him put on the Sex Offenders Register, and that’ll be ok.

    Even though I used the wrong law, and the suspect ended up on a list which WILL affect their life beyond the scope of the initial infraction.. At least they aren’t stealing lollypops from my shop anymore, huh?

  48. #46: So sworn affidavits state that this woman was acting drunk and abusive towards her children before she boarded the plane, plus her excessive alcohol intake while on board the plane as well as her violent behavior towards her children and the flight attendant=alcoholic. Sorry if that offends your sensibilities, but I don’t think that’s a stretch. But here’s the fun one: You just aquaited a woman who was drunkenly beating her children (between her actions on the plane and her conviction in Hawaii, I think one can safely say that she indeed is an abusive mother)as well as screaming threats at a flight attendant with “stealing lollypops”. I don’t think any more needs to be said.

  49. We all seem to be missing the most salient fact in the case (as quoted by #3):

    “Amy Grant observed Freeman hitting her children repeatedly and yelling profanities at her children and at the flight attendants. She observed Freeman swing with an opened hand down at the children and heard the children crying after being struck”

    Jeebus does not allow Amy Grant to lie. Case closed.

    (YES THERE IS TOO only one Amy Grant in the world.)

  50. Arkizzle @46 – you are still missing the fact that no law relating to terrorism was used in this case. She was not treated as a terrorist (which she clearly wasn’t), but as a child abuser and flight attendant interferer, which she apparently was.

    Granted, you’re responding to JerkZilla’s logic, so maintaining the same mistaken assumptions of fact might make sense in that case.

  51. offends your sensibilities“?

    No. I’m just not inclined to equate drunk-on-an-aeroplane to alcoholic, without further reading. You know nothing of her mental state in this endeavour. Flying is incredibly affecting to lots of people, and many of them try to combat it with alcohol. I’m certainly not excusing her actions, but she isn’t necessarily an alcoholic based on the stories above alone.

    And compared to terrorism (you know, willfully killing multiple people, with an aim to influencing thousands more through fear) her actions, on the one occasion observed, are not note worthy.

  52. In fairness though, in responding to JZ, I wasn’t fully aware of the charge details.

    I think my repsonse stands though.

  53. Let’s not even bring in the beatings. Drunk-on-an-aeroplane while you’ve got toddlers in your care = alcoholic. It’s not rocket science.. I don’t have to know her mental state. I don’t have to get to know her better to know that if you’ve got three kids and you’re can’t stop drinking and beating them and you’re abusive to people asking you to stop, you’ve got a serious alcohol problem. And you don’t need to trump up some terrorist charge (which they didn’t. They got her on a statute that existed before the Patriot Act.)to get her thrown in the pokey.

  54. Obama can begin a purge at the DHS, fire half right off since they are doing nothing. Re-purpose the remaining half to actual security work instead of ass-kissing and empire building and work down from there. TSA staff should all be re-interviewed and made to re-apply for their jobs. Airlines and their personnel should be put on notice there is new marshal in town and he ain’t stupid. A few show trials and public jailings of first class idiot passengers and moron flight crew to set the tone.

    Then the adoption of an air passenger Bill of Rights, enforceable by federal mandate and compatible with the similar in the EU.

  55. First off, getting on an airline’s unruly passenger list and getting on the Terrorist Watch List are not even remotely similar. And if you are cussing at and arguing with the flight attendant, somebody should make note of it.

    “interference or intimidation of a crew member by itself is not chargeable under the [criminal] statute unless it rises to the level of physical assault, threatened physical assault or an act posing an imminent threat to the safety of the aircraft or other individuals on the aircraft.”

    Cussing at somebody and then throwing something at them is assault. Period.

    And the fact that she beat all 3 of her kids when one of them knocked over her bloody mary would have been a hint to most people that she was probably drunk.

  56. JZ

    You’re right, but don’t try and merge the two arguments.

    I was probably just being pissy, picking on your use of ‘alcoholic’. I’ll admit to that, and apologise. But I never excused her actions and never said she shouldn’t be arrested for them.

    I challenged your statement that using the wrong laws to convict someone (as in your example) was fine and dandy. It isn’t. There are all kinds of repercussions to using the wrong laws to enforce a mandate.

    Like using sex-offender laws to combat public urination. It’s just loopy.

  57. If all the people hassled because they were on terrorist watch lists simply STOPPED flying, the industry would feel it. Of course, that’s a big thing to ask of people.

  58. arkizzle- I also apologize. I truly believe that we are a nation of Laws and we should always be vigilant that we don’t abuse them in order to get a result that we want. I have a “thing” against pepole that beat their children in public as well as people who can’t control their vices after having children (which it seems this woman is guilty of both), so when I read the L.A. Times’ version of what happened, and then read the affidavits and court documents of what actually happened, it really got my blood up. And I was more than a tad unreasonable and jerky towards you, which was unfair. Again, I apologize.

  59. kind of off topic-
    Many people observed this woman hitting and yelling at her kids, and obviously drunk BEFORE she got on the plane. No-one, it seems tried to intervene at that stage.
    How far does an adult have to go in hitting a child before you would step up and do something?

  60. Arkizzle – I believe I left the door open that the AU family might have violatedsome policy, requirement, what-have-you while others assumed they didn’t, that was taken by some as defense of the C & BP agent’s action, it was not meant that way.

    As for the clarity of my position this time, I think repetition and putting my position in big bold letters help me clearly communicate my position, without my lamentation being mid-construed as defense of the airline workers (reported) actions.

    I spoke to the plight of airline workers without defending OR damning the action attributed to this particular flight attendant.

    I think planes need a time-out section, for both passengers AND flight crew that misbehaves…

  61. the WaronsomeDrugs Industry turned your local police department into a uniformed,machine-gun toting, tank driving paramilitary. Now they kick in your door and shoot you in the face with a 12 gauge over your tomato plants.

    Why should anyone be surprised the WarofTerror Industy has turned stewardesses into Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS? Just think about how much payback they have stored up for years of ass-grabbing by drunken dipshits?

  62. “Zero-tolerance policy eh? Well f*** you and your f***ing bullshit f***ing zero f***ing bullshit f***ing tolerance my ass f***ing policy, take that f***ing policy and shove it your f***ing god-f***ing damned asses!” is how I would’ve replied… loudly too, so everyone nearby can hear me.

    You don’t suppose they have solitary containment on them planes do you?

  63. @46KYTSUNE, I acknowledge that the F-word may not offend you, but it is considered offensive to most people. What if the man had shouted a racial epithet? It may not be offensive to everyone, but it shows disrespect and lack of self control. When someone boards an airplane and shows his disrespect and lack of self control by shouting a very offensive word, most of the passengers and crew would probably prefer the man be removed.

    RAJ77, I’m not offended by the word myself, but I’m deeply offended if someone is disrespectful and rude enough to say it in front of my children, or anyone’s children for that matter.

  64. HEYDEMANN3 said:

    I bet if we offered them [flight attendants] duct tape by the time the plane landed most of the passengers would have silvery orbs for heads.

    Oh how the rude would cringe when they hear the RRRRRIIIIIPPPPP!!!!! of a freash strip coming off the roll of duct tape.

    Lovely image – thanks!

  65. Once again there is no contact info in the post to make a formal complaint with BA or Frontier Airlines. How about an e-mail or phone number?

  66. When laws and acts like the so-called Patriot Act are passed, the paperwork should explicitly spell out what that law/act is to be used for. It is not enough to *intend* that the act be used to fight “terrorists,” if you don’t put it in writing you are leaving the door wide open for abuse.

    If lawmakers want to combat terrorism, then they should create a hard definition of acts they consider to be terroristic. Put it in writing. Release it *publicly* – no secret definitions or rules.

  67. @74 Tom Hale Yes, but I personally don’t see that I should have any expectations beyond my asking him firmly to stop, were he upsetting my kids. People under stress tend to cuss, and that’s not something law enforcement needs to get involved in. This case, though? Righteous arrest.

  68. RAJ77,

    I agree wholeheartedly that law enforcement shouldn’t become involved – hopefully that wasn’t the case. I only read “they tossed him off the plane.” And – I regret commenting about it. I should have ignored that post and focused on the major issue.

  69. TheChickenAndTheRice – I see what you did there. Too bad others didn’t. It happens a lot.

    (and by “it”, for those who need it spelled out, I mean both the overlooking of obvious satire, and the facts manipulation by and/or of sources. Fact check before commenting… or blogging!)

  70. I’m going to say something very unpopular here, but it is worth saying because there seems to be a great deal of ignorance here.


    If you don’t like it, get your own damned transportation. The reason for this drastic measure has nothing to do with the Patriot act, nothing to do with the TSA, and nothing to do with criminal law.

    When you board the vessel, be it a train, boat, or aircraft, you are submitting to the rule of law of your captain, pilot, or engineer. They and their crew are required by ethical standards and international law to do whatever is needed to maintain the safety of the journey. You can certainly bring their conduct up for question after the journey is over. BUT DURING THE JOURNEY ITSELF, THEIR WORD IS LAW.

    This law is nearly as old as recorded history. It is not subject to borders or countries or flags. It is a fact of life.

    To the idiots who can’t get enough of their electronic toys while the aircraft is screaming toward a runway they can’t see at 155 MPH, please, give it a rest. I’m sure that 99.999% of you aren’t going to cause problems. However, the consequences if you are wrong is NOT YOUR RISK TO TAKE.

    By the way, I am a registered professional engineer (electrical engineering), and a pilot, and an aircraft owner. I know that interference with navigation is unlikely, but it does happen. Even though I truly can say that I actually am an expert and that I REALLY DO know better, I still follow the instructions the crew gives me.

    Argue with the company at the end of your journey and be thankful you arrived in one piece. The only thing worse than being nagged by the crew is when they see misbehavior and don’t care.

    1. ab3a,

      Admiralty law doesn’t put you on a secret list so that you and everyone with a similar name will be harassed for the rest of your life. Old laws don’t cut it in a world where your information can be disseminated worldwide in an instant. It’s conviction without trial.

  71. NETSHARC said:

    You don’t suppose they have solitary containment on them planes do you?

    Yes, they usually have between 2 and 6 on most planes, they call them Lavatories, but you can call it home for the duration of the flight – enjoy, Mr. Potty-mouth. ;^)

  72. I guess the moral of the story is not to be a prick when you have to be in a small space with others.

  73. well, if know in advance you are going to be given a hard time, have a very heavy meal of strong German beer, garlic mussels, Stilton cheese, plenty of cauliflower,more garlic, another seafood platter, baked beans and super-hot chili -and then express your displeasure silently for the entire trip.

  74. Admiralty Law sounds fucking great! Can I apply it in my car? I’m generally the Captain of my car, which is christened “La Magna”. I’d really like to boss people around, and be all like “you can’t drink out of that hip flask, it’s against international law!” to my stupid friends. And they’d be all like, “who died and made you Captain?” and I’d be like “It’s law. It’s ADMIRALTY LAW!”

    What about if I lead a mutiny on a bus?

  75. ROBULUS said:

    Admiralty Law sounds f***ing great! Can I apply it in my car?

    My dad did, and I quote “If you kids don’t stop that I’ll turn this car around!” as well as “I’m driving, I pick the radio station we listen to!”.

    I don’t think he was alone in this interpretation of the “Law of the Road”.

  76. Typcl hdln frm Cry, why dsn’t h wrk fr th Sn r Dly Ml whr hs tlnts cn b pprctd?

    “Dsgr?” thnk y’r llwd t dsgr.

    bsv lngg? Drnkng nd httng yr chldrn? Nt s mch.

  77. Colin 3: So while the airlines are undoubtedly abusing the Patriot Act and branding argumentative people as terrorists, this example may not be so clear cut.

    I mildly disagree, on two counts: they’re not abusing the Patriot Act so much as the Patriot Act is itself abusive; and while this case may not be a clear cut case of an innocent woman having her life being ruined, it IS a clear-cut case of abuse of power. Supposing all the testimony you recount here is true, restraining her and taking her children away doesn’t seem overboard (heh), classifying her as a terrorist certainly does.

    rayceeya 4: This exact same thing happened to my brother two weeks ago in Denver.

    If the incident occurred as you recount it here, it’s not the “exact same thing” at all. It’s a far more egregious example of the flight crew overreacting IMO, but with far less consequence to your brother’s life. They tossed him off the plane, which was way wrong, but you don’t say he was classed as a terrorist or put in jail. Thank gods for small favors.

    Clif 5: Should she lose her kids and be considered a terrorist for a drunken rage even if the prosecution is correct? Hell, no…I have to drink heavily to get on an airplane too so I’m sympathetic.

    Two points: One, you’re responsible for everything you do, even if you’re drunk (unless someone actually forced you to drink the booze; if you chose to drink, whatever the “need,” your intoxicated behavior is your responsibility). Two, of COURSE she should lose her children if the prosecution is correct! Good gods. Verbal abuse in public indicates physical abuse in private, and she was (according to the prosecution) physically abusive to them in public. Gods know what she does to them in her drunken rages at home. Until they’re safe with her, she shouldn’t have any unsupervised time with them.

    NB: for the above statements I’m assuming, as you did, that what the prosecution claimed was actually true. I am not judging the actual woman herself; if she gave one kid three swats on the bottom she should not lose her kids just for that. Of course.

    And now I see that Darren said the same thing, only shorter, at 34. Oh well.

    Mad 7: YES. And thank you. Being a person of small stature myself, I’m often intimidated out of dealing with these jerks.

    Tom 9: If I were aboard an airplane with my family and immediately after entering the plane, someone yelled F**K! – I’d want him to be removed.

    I agree with Flying Orca here. You have a right to WANT that, but I don’t think you have the right to demand it, nor do I think they have the right to do it (expell the passenger). If he’s cursing a blue streak and won’t stop, that approaches the margin, but FUCK can be a cry of physical pain. Sorry, if you don’t want your kids to hear the occasional F-bomb, you need to raise deaf kids.

    Tom 32: How do you conclude that someone being offended and concerned in that situation is the problem?

    No, THAT’S not a problem. It’s thinking it’s appropriate for someone to be removed from a plane because you’re offended, THAT’S the problem. And please note, nowhere in rayceeya’s comment at 4 does it say that Master Sergeant rayceeya’sbrother shouted the epithet. He may have grunted it and the FA may have been nearby.

  78. Being a person of small stature myself..

    Hmmp! I always pictured you as a tall, blonde, broad-shouldered hero type..

    You clearly talk large :)

    (and Scandinavian, possibly)

  79. Arkizzle 94: I always pictured you as a tall, blonde, broad-shouldered hero type…(and Scandinavian, possibly)

    I say thee, nope!

    I am tall…if you’re under four feet yourself. (I’m about five foot seven, or 170 centimeters.)

    I am a former blond, though my current hair color is “clear.”

    Broad-shouldered…actually I am fairly broad-shouldered. At the moment I’m also fairly broad-waisted, unfortunately. Comes of needing a cane, which will go away when I get a defective part swapped for a shiny new one. (But if I rap my cane on the ground…)

    Scandanavian, well, the Irish part of the family probably has some Viking ancestors, since they’re from Donnegal (Dun na nGaill, “fortress of the invaders”). Other than that it’s all Celt, Slav, and Teuton here.

    You clearly talk large :)

    I hope you don’t just mean I’m a big talker! :-)

  80. As far as the “terrorist” thing goes:….WAKE UP….there are no terrorists!! There are no ‘sleeper cells”.
    DHS was put in place to hide and keep the truth from the public. It is a BIG dog and pony show for the public who have no idea what’s really going on.

    We have in this country 200,000+ law enforcement personnel, federal, state and local , we have arrested, I’m guessing, over a one million people for various crimes since 9/11, in the same time we have arrested ……..0 terrorist…………0. I work for one of these agencies and I can tell you we are not in the business of trying to stop anything.

  81. What I find interesting is there are folks who abuse their kids, severely, repeatedly, and they get them back. Why DO they get them back?

    We should not assume Tamera ever did this before or would again. We should stick with the facts. She could have made better choices, but the kids deserve their mom and she deserves a chance. She is not a terrorist and the charges that she abused her kids were dropped.

    So why is she still without the kids?

    Scary world, this, I think.

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