American Flight Diverted for “Offensive” Name Calling by Passenger

Markus Mainka /
Markus Mainka /

If you haven’t heard, most airlines aren’t doing all that well these days. And this story explains a massive part of that why…

It happened on July 18 on an American Airlines flight from New York City’s John F. Kennedy Airport to Georgetown, Guyana. But only two hours into that flight, pilots changed course, turning the plane around and returning to JFK.

Why? Because a flight attendant was “offended” by a passenger.

As Stabroek News reported, Joel Ghansham, a “Guyanese cultural activist,” boarded the plane like everyone else and began to take his seat. But seeing as Ghansham had recently had spinal surgery, he could not lift his carry-on into the overhead compartments.

Naturally, he asked a nearby male flight attendant for help.

The flight attendant’s response was immediately, “No, I don’t do that. I’m not being paid to do that.” He then promptly walked away. Luckily another crew member helped out.

Then later, as the flight attendants began serving drinks and snacks, this same non-helping young man asked Ghansham if he wanted a drink. Ghansham politely responded, “No, thank you, waiter.”

Apparently, this (using the term “waiter”) immediately sent the flight attendant into a rage. He even proceeded to have the plane diverted back to JFK for the “offensive” term.

Ghansham, already tired of this young man’s attitude, sarcastically commented about how the flight attendant must be God or something.

A short time later, passengers were informed the plane was indeed turning around and headed back to JFK.

Once the plane landed, law enforcement officers were brought on board to question Ghansham, who had apparently done some great evil.

However, once they learned what had actually happened, they didn’t even bother to take the passenger’s statement and dismissed the entire case.

As Ghansham said, “If I was rude or belligerent, wouldn’t they have arrested me?”

It’s a valid question. And one that the all too easily offended flight attendant should be asking himself.

It should also be one that the airlines should consider before taking the word of some upstart crew member who’s easily offended.