- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A New York woman is suing United Airlines for $5 million after she says she was dragged off her flight and forced to spend three days in jail for arguing with attendants over a seat change.

Jean Mamakos, 68, of Huntington, claims that rude flight attendants overreacted when she tried to switch to an empty exit-row seat during a layover in Seattle.

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

Ms. Mamakos said she was told that an upgrade to an empty exit-row emergency seat would cost her.

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

Ms. Mamakos said she went back to her seat and overheard the captain say, “There is a lady that wants to get off the plane on this flight, so we have to wait.”

That’s when flight attendants surrounded her and told her she had to leave, she said. Ms. Mamakos said she repeatedly refused to leave, because she had paid thousands in airfare for the round-trip flight.

Seattle police were called on board the plane and warned Ms. Mamakos that she could go willingly or be arrested for trespassing. Video of the incident was taken by another passenger.

“Do what you have to do,” Ms. Mamakos calmly replies before the officer is seen moving in to arrest her.

“They did handcuff me; there were three policemen that dragged me out of the plane,” she told the CBS affiliate, holding up a pair of jeans that were allegedly ripped during the altercation.

Ms. Mamakos, who was on her way to Alaska from New York, said she never made it to Alaska for her ski trip. Instead, she was booked, fingerprinted and forced to spend three days in county jail in Washington.

Her attorney, Patricia Swicicki, said Ms. Mamakos was in jail for so long because courts weren’t open on the weekend. She is now suing United Airlines for $5 million in Brooklyn federal court.

United Airlines acknowledged Ms. Mamakos‘ lawsuit, but would not comment on the case, the CBS affiliate reported.

The airline did say federal law requires pre-flight briefing for anyone seated in emergency rows, and added that balance and weight safety regulations prevent onboard seat changes, the station reported.

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