A 74-year-old retired flight attendant claims she was shoved in the back by a JetBlue crewmember, thrown against a door, causing a black eye and trussed up in handcuffs before being handed over to police in Orlando because of a dispute over a discarded tea cup.
Grandmother of four Angela Siddell had booked a vacation to Costa Rica last October to celebrate her upcoming retirement with her partner, but it was during the flight from New York JFK that her dream holiday turned into her worst nightmare, a recently filed lawsuit in a New York district court alleges.
As a true Brit who had already traveled all the way from her home on Jersey in the Channel Islands, Siddell decided to enjoy a cup of tea during the five-hour long flight from New York to Costa Rica. It was this cup of tea that led to her being ‘assaulted and battered’ by the JetBlue flight attendants.
Siddell says that after drinking most of her cup of tea, she went to use the lavatory, during which time the flight attendants passed through the cabin collecting trash. Unfortunately, the flight attendants missed Siddell’s cup, so she decided to take it herself to the rear galley.
When Siddell got to the galley, she couldn’t find a trash can for the cup, so she left it on the countertop so that a flight attendant could dispose of it when they returned to the galley. Siddell then returned to her seat to enjoy the rest of the flight to Costa Rica.
That’s not, however, what happened next. Siddell says she was almost immediately confronted by a flight attendant who accused her of throwing the cup of tea in the galley.
Siddell says she was taken aback by the flight attendant’s “verbally aggressive manner”, and attempts to explain what had happened proved fruitless as the flight attendant spoke over her.
Upset by the crew member’s behavior, Siddell said she wanted to make a complaint and asked for the flight attendant’s ID number. The flight attendant who initially addressed her, as well as other flight attendants Siddell spoke to, refused to provide their ID numbers.
Undeterred, Siddell then asked for the name of the Captain. In her civil complaint, Siddell explains that her late husband was an airline Captain, and so is her youngest son, and it’s her understanding that it is a pretty common occurrence for customers to request the Captain’s name in the event of an onboard incident.
Again, the flight attendants refused, but Siddell pushed back, initially asking for a complaint form before starting to pen a complaint on the back of an air sickness bag.
Siddell went to get the name of the flight attendant who had been rude to her, but she repeatedly refused to let Siddell read her name tag. At this point, Siddell says things suddenly got violent.
One flight attendant allegedly grabbed her waist, while another shoved her twice in the back, causing her head to “violently strike one of the aircraft’s rear doors”.
The complaint continues: “Plaintiff was shoved from behind several more times by the JetBlue cabin crewmember causing Plaintiff’s head to strike the exit door multiple times and causing Plaintiff to sustain physical injuries, including a black eye, and bruises and swelling of the temple region and other areas of Plaintiff’s head.”
Another flight attendant then grabbed Siddell’s arms and forced them behind her back, handcuffed her and then “applied pressure to Plaintiff’s torso causing Plaintiff to have extreme difficulty breathing.”
Siddell was moved to a seat at the back of the plane, where her complaints about struggling to breathe went unheeded. The flight was then diverted to Orlando Airport, where Siddell was handed over to airport police.
She claims to have suffered a black eye and swollen right shoulder, as well as bruising to her wrists and injuries to both arms. Siddell is suing JetBlue under the provisions of the Montreal Convention, which makes airlines strictly liable for injuries sustained by passengers onboard international flights.
JetBlue did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.