American airline threatens to divert flight over queer kiss


SEE AN UPDATE IN THIS SEPTEMBER 26 POST: "the American Airlines homo scare: even worse than reported"

Shortly after takeoff, Varnier nodded off, leaning his head on Tsikhiseli. A stewardess came over to their row. “The purser wants you to stop that,” she said.

“I opened my eyes and was, like, ‘Stop what?’ ” Varnier recalled the other day.

“The touching and the kissing,” the stewardess said, before walking away.

This isn't fiction; It's right there in print, in "The Talk of the Town" section of The New Yorker. The two people told to cut the show of affection while on a transatlantic flight one month ago were two gay men.

They asked to speak to the purser, who denied instructing the stewardess to tell the men anything. She admitted there was nothing inappropriate about the behavior they described and while she initially seemed to be supportive she ended the discussion by announcing that kissing was improper behavior on an airplane. She then said she was busy with meal service and left, promising to come back afterward.

Half an hour later, the purser returned, this time saying that some passengers had complained about Tsikhiseli and Varnier’s behavior earlier. The men asked more questions. Who had complained? (She couldn’t say.) Could they have the stewardess’s name, or employee number? (No.) Would the purser arrange for an American Airlines representative to meet them upon landing at J.F.K.? (Not possible.) Finally, the purser said that if they didn’t drop the matter the flight would be diverted.

After that, [a passenger whom we know who was seated behind the couple] said, “everyone shut up for a while. ”Maybe an hour later, the purser approached Tsikhiseli and said that the captain wanted to talk to him. Tsikhiseli went up to the galley and gave the captain his business card. The captain told Tsikhiseli that if they didn’t stop arguing with the crew he would indeed divert the plane. “I want you to go back to your seat and behave the rest of the flight, and we’ll see you in New York,” he said. Tsikhiseli returned to coach.

This is just one of the reasons why Barry and I are thinking about leaving the country. Such an assault may be worthy of a few paragraphs in a sophisticated New York magazine, on the basis of its outrageousness, but this sort of thing - and much worse - is still taking place all over the country, even on and above international waters. I just don't think there's a future in this country for people who think, even if they're careful to kiss the people they're supposed to kiss.

It's not only about queer terrorists.

[image from Women in Uniform]

This is the sadest tale I've heard in a long time! Unreal.
Seems to clarify the tension, fear and ignorance that perhaps is our nation's current psyche.
Wonder if this would be much different anywhere else?
Have the couple pressed any charges? Made any complaints?

What pisses me off about this thing is not the intolerance and stupidity of the airline staff- because we all know that exists and always will. But where in the story are the accounts of the people on the sidelines speaking out against the stewardess? Perhaps that was the jist of the passenger behind the couple? I dont know but it seems to me that it would be a knee jerk reaction for me to stand up and bitch that stewardess out I would be so mad! That stuff really gets to me. I would announce "Hey everyone! You heard of 'Snakes on a Plane' right? Well this movie is called 'Make-out sessions on a Plane' so everyone with a s.o. get busy and see if we can get them to divert the damn plane and tell their superiors they did it cause everyone was freaking kissing!!!"

We cut millions from the budget that was supposed to go towards research to better detect actual explosives. This would make us safer without phony safeguards such as removing your shoes or banning hair gel. We still don't have the type of real security that would protect us from real threats. But now along with lighters, laptops, iPods, toothpaste, Evian, nail clippers and shoes, homos are added to the list of dangerous contraband on flights.

Too bad there isn't a Queer Nation anymore. Time for a kiss-in at the AA terminal.
Jon W

this is sick, sad and almost unbelievable.

Well, It's great to see that the airline that let the terorists on board is finally on the ball!! Could they change the name to "the ugly American Airlines??"

It's sad, but very believable. The truth is that, I should wait for the facts to come out and see just the whole truth here, before making a snap judgement as to what happened. But the whole thing seems very believable.

I do not believe homosexual acts are in line with God's plan for humanity, but give me a break, what's the big deal about two guys showing their love for one another? Regardless of what my beliefs are, I don't think it's right for me to judge anyone else's actions unless they have a direct negative effect on me. Two guys being affectionate does not fit that definition.

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Published on September 21, 2006 11:21 PM.

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