Black Eye, Handcuffs, And A Barf Bag: Elderly Granny’s Fight With Flight Attendant Ends In Arrest

Angela Siddell, a 74-year-old British grandmother of four and retired flight attendant, wound up arrested after her JetBlue flight from New York JFK to Costa Rica diverted to Orlando back in the fall. Now she’s suing.

She was on a trip to celebrate her retirement. She finished her tea and went to the lavatory. Cabin crew on the flight had done trash collection, but didn’t pick up her tea cup. She brought it with her, looked around for the rubbish bin in the galley, and gave up – leaving her cup and spoon on the counter for the crew to dispose of later.

A flight attendant confronted her, accusing her of throwing the cup in the galley. She says she tried to explain the situation but didn’t have the chance, as the flight attendant spoke over her. And she decided she wanted to file a complaint which didn’t go over well with the crew.


  • File complaints later, after the flight.
  • Don’t tell the crew that you’re stuck with for several hours that you’re going to do so.
  • Because they’re still authorities on the aircraft and you’re stuck with them for several hours.

Siddell asked for the flight attendant’s ID number and the captain’s name. She says she was refused. Surely she knew that her flight details, and a description of the crewmember, would have sufficed. She could have taken a surreptitious photo! I’m surprised a career airline employee, whose late husband was a pilot, handled it so indelicately.

Wanting to document everything contemporaneously, she grabbed an air sickness bag. She tried to read the flight attendant’s name tag. And that’s when she claims that multiple crew members accosted her, shoving her against the plane’s rear exit door, causing a black eye and shoulder injuries. And, she relays, they handcuffed her with her arms behind her back, causing additional bruising and difficulty breathing.

The captain diverted. Once on the ground in Orlando she and her travel companion were handed over to police. I really look forward to learning the other side of this story!!

(HT: Paddle Your Own Kanoo)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. She should know better. But also were handcuffs necessary. Seems excessive force for a tea cup. I assume there is definitely more to the story. A lot more. I think we all try to deescalate as much as possible, none of us want to divert or fill out the paperwork that comes w unruly pax.

  2. So this lifelong air-hag was on the receiving end of her “service”. I wonder if they told her that they were only here for her safety and not tea service. The mergers a shame really, the NK crews would have fit in pretty well.

  3. More to the story? Maybe she worked for American Airlines, where no matter how blatantly obviously wrong. Employee is, or former employee in this case, and no matter how much evidence is against them, they are still unconditionally 100% right. 100% of the time? She was expecting this kind of protection from the airline industry because that’s how they do their employees? Except that she forgot that the same unconditionally right affirmation of airline employees, favors the current employee over the previous one because the current one is entitled to such blatant protections!

  4. Gary, your creepy AI images are really getting creepier. I now actually avoid your posts that have the AI generated images. I made an exception on this one because it was so outlandish that someone had to say something. As a reader and commenter for something like 15 years, please please please stop. Or at least ask your readers. Maybe it’s like you and feet, just a personal idiosyncrasy but I really think it needs to end.

  5. I’m surprised a career airline employee, whose late husband was a pilot, handled it so indelicately.


    Should I surprised that a career writer (that’s you, Gary) makes a ton of typos in published work?

    Should anyone be surprised that I, a Vault 50 biglaw partner in NYC who made 8 figures last year, has time to post in the comments section of what is ostensibly a miles-and-points (read: budget travel) blog? I also hit the gym 3x weekly, cook dinner most nights, and sleep an average of 7.5 hours a night. I also protect my associates from burning the midnight oil.

    Newsworthy events, or lawsuitworthy events, are going to contain elements of surprise. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t have been newsworthy.

    In any case, don’t leave trash in the galley unattended. Etiquette aside, it’s a safety issue to have something unsecured that could turn into a projectile during turbulence in the crew work area. If the crew become injured, that’s bad news for the entire planeload of passengers who depend on the crew foremost for safety.

    If you as a passenger have trash that’s not collected by a flight attendant roaming the aisle with a trash bag, just take it to the lavatory and throw it in the trash there.

    Now if JetBlue is serving tea in actual drinkware and reusable spoons, that is news to me. Proper approach would be to hand it to a flight attendant in the galley or elsewhere onboard instead of setting it down in a spot not clearly designated for it.

    Shame on the crew for confrontational behavior, let’s not forget that, I hope the passenger is awarded a handsome judgment.

  6. There should be a requirement for flight attendants to show their identifying number, same as police, who are also there for your safety. Are there any videos? Maybe flight attendants should be required to use body cams like the police are. The videos would help determine of her story has validity. I would like to see the flight attendants testifying in court while being cross examined by a competent plaintiff lawyer. I wonder how good they are at lying and if they would stick together.

  7. Have to agree – file after the flight
    and don’t communicate that your filling a complaint. Learned the hard way flying AA in F with my 8+ month pregnant wife to Chicago for a sale award dinner.

    Thankfully charges were dropped. Haven’t flown AA since booked a few award flights – the first was to Costa Rica on AA Metal but ended up canceling as the US has instituted needing a neg Covid test to enter US in 2021 (before proctored swab test had rolled out).

    Still despise AA to this day. FA’s have far too much power to have plane diverted and have you arrested. Almost need camera’s in the cabins (its a public space with no expectations of
    privacy – but we know that will never happen – but thankfully everyone has a phone).

  8. i always leave trash in the galley esp as the FAs are often hiding. not once has anyone complained. usually they appreciate any effort to do their jobs for them. of course i rarely fly B6.

  9. Sounds like FA’s are like LE in that they will work in groups to pounce on anyone who they want to..

  10. Please continue to report on the story. You have given good advice to travellers.

    A number of years ago, I personally discovered that asking for a flight attendant’s name while on the plane can create huge problems. Though in complete compliance while getting seated, I asked for a flight attendant’s name, not seeing immediately her name badge. She brought back the pilot, and they both attempted to accuse me of noncompliance, and indirectly a threat to the upcoming flight. It was the last flight that day to my destination and I wanted to go home.

    I was ultimately successful in staying on the flight, but I learned a valuable lesson. Once on the plane, the flight attendants and pilots have almost complete authority. If you question an attendant or even ask for a name, they can (and often will) construe this as a threat to their authority and to the upcoming flight.

    It’s not right. It’s not fair, but it’s reality once you are on the plane. Flight attendants often wear a first name badge. As you suggested, write down the details as you can, and try to say nothing until you land, and can get off at your destination. Then file your complaint, if indicated.

  11. Now, now all you drama queens. Thank the lord, the former flight attendant wasn’t legendary Pucci Galore.

    Pucci Galore can’t be a grandmother as he is a guy with M sex on passport.

  12. I remember reading in the 70s that Aeroflot attendants were known to regularly assault passengers. There needs to be more legal review of the actions of flight personnel. These are the actions of people who know they are above the law.

  13. Power-tripping flight attendants on US airlines are best dealt with by complaining after the flight is over. Not that the complaint will necessarily do much good, but at least then when off the plane you’re on a somewhat more level playing field than when on the airline’s property and facing the unfortunate tendency of people to circle the bandwagon to assume that their own colleagues are good actors rather than bad or otherwise questionable actors whose words shouldn’t be taken at face value.

  14. WestEndBoy,

    European airlines’ employees and retirees may not fully appreciate that their working American colleagues on US planes have been able to engage in crazy power-tripping since 9/11 with little check and then got additional boost from Covid-19 too.

    We have a bad policing problem in the US, and it shows with airlines too.

  15. Has an FA EVER been disciplined for ANY type of crap toward their customers?

    The airlines seemed to have gotten a deal. You couldn’t abuse a customer in any other industry and get away with it like they do.

  16. The Flight Crews are hardly law enforcement, they should be liable for any and all excessive force used and this surely was.

  17. I was on the flight. She told them that she going forward she was going to stop flying Jet Blue and instead switch to Delta where she was willing to pay a premium for their premium service.
    That’s when all he11 broke loose.

  18. Please I’m so tired of these rage of the day posts about bad behavior travelers. Like all the credit card posts, I just swipe on by.

  19. M,

    Flipping on by is what I do when I come across news about people getting pit bulls as pets. It is what it is, but I don’t go around looking for stories about people getting pit bulls and then comment there about people getting pit bulls.

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