Carmen Maria Montiel, the 1984 Miss Venezuela and second runner up for Miss Universe, is suing United in what’s surely one of the most bizarre stories of a passenger behaving badly, an airline overreacting and getting law enforcement involved, and a pox on both their houses.
In 2013 she and her husband were flying from Houston to Bogota with their 14 year old daughter. She and her husband were in the midst of getting divorced.
According to reports of her story and lawsuit, they were flying up front and she asked a flight attendant for a pillow but was told United no longer offered them. She was.. not pleased. Still, she made due by “propp[ing] up blankets and la[ying] her head on her husband’s shoulder to sleep.” Remember, she and her husband didn’t like each other at this point. She says he slapped her, and pushed the flight attendant call button to complain that his wife was “invading his space.”
She and her husband reportedly argued and then he husband again rang the flight attendant call button to complain that the former Miss Venezuela was “still bothering him.”
Listen, people, flight attendants aren’t marriage counselors. And while I believe they shouldn’t merely be there ‘primarily for your safety’ I also think that if you’re the one created the unsafe situation it’s incumbent on you – not your flight attendant – to cut that out.
A flight attendant wrote up an incident report, asked her to sign the warning.
On American Airlines a flight disturbance report looks like this:
On British Airways you may be presented with a yellow card:
She refused to sign. Her husband further complained that she was upsetting their daughter. She changed seats — but the flight attendant instructed her to move back to coach. She refused.
Here’s what she claims happened next:
Montiel says that [Flight Attendant] Oliver, after huddling with her husband, recruited two heavyset men who handcuffed the 120-pound woman with plastic zip ties, grabbed her by the shoulders and carried her to the rear of the plane, sitting her next to an off-duty Houston cop. The lights were out and most people were sleeping.
She was indicted in federal court “on a charge of interference with a flight attendant.” However after the flight’s captain “testified that he did not authorize her removal or arrest” she was acquitted.
Airlines need to stop calling the cops on customers but choosing to travel with a spouse you’re divorcing and then getting into an argument while confined inside a metal tube for 5 hours is a very bad idea as well.