After a passenger on board called a flight attendant as a “waiter,” an American Airlines plane returned to the airfield from where it had taken off.
According to Guyana’s Stabroek News, after just two hours, the flight to Georgetown, Guyana, made a U-turn and headed back to JFK International Airport in New York City due to an incident involving a “disruptive passenger,” as the airline described it.
The passenger was identified as Joel Ghansham, a “Guyanese cultural activist,” Mr. Ghansham posted a video on YouTube with the caption “What really went down?” to give his version of the incidents.
Mr. Ghansham, who claimed to have flown in business class, denied being disruptive and said the incident began when he asked a flight attendant for assistance because he had just had surgery in order to put his baggage in the overhead storage. He replied, ‘No, I don’t do that.’ He informed her, “I don’t get paid that kind of money, but if you don’t like it there is always another airline,” business class passenger Ghansham told the outlet. Then he apparently received assistance with the luggage from another staff member.
Around an hour into the trip, the flight attendant who had reportedly declined to help Mr. Ghansham asked the passenger if he would like anything to drink. Mr. Ghansham claimed the man responded, “No thank you, waiter.” In the video, Mr. Ghansham asserts that the flight attendant informed him that although he wasn’t a waiter, he “had the power to turn the plane [around]”; Mr. Ghansham stated that he responded, “You must be God, so you do it.”
The flight was soon on its way back to New York, the pilot announcing over the speakers. An agent from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and a police officer reportedly met Mr Ghansham as the plane touched down, and he was questioned by both.
Mr. Ghansham says “There was not a disruption. I never got up. There was not an argument, there was not a confrontation, nobody touched each other. He was wearing a mask. He wasn’t even loud. It was just his pride.”