Airlines captain reportedly threatened to divert a flight
from Paris to New York after a gay couple complained about
how they were treated by the flight crew, The New
Yorker reported on Monday.
According to a
"Talk of the Town" item in the magazine's September 25
issue, now posted on its Web site, TV journalist George
Tsikhiseli and his boyfriend of four months, writer Stephan
Varnier, were told by a stewardess to stop
their "touching and the kissing" not long into
American Airlines Flight 45 from Charles de Gaulle to
JFK on August 22. The couple said they were doing
nothing inappropriate--perhaps a peck on the cheek, a
head on the other's shoulder--a story backed up
by the two passengers seated behind them and another
across the aisle.
When they asked
to see the purser--whom the stewardess claimed had
issued the order--the purser said she knew
nothing about the incident and initially agreed
that their behavior had not been inappropriate,
the men and witnesses reported. But she returned later to
say that other passengers had complained about the men's
affectionate gestures. When the gay couple asked who
had complained, asked to speak with an American
Airlines representative upon landing, and asked
for the stewardess's name and employee number, the purser
told them to drop the matter or the flight would be
diverted, the magazine reported.
An hour later,
the purser asked Tsikhiseli to meet the captain in a
galley, and the captain repeated the threat to divert the
airplane if the men continued to "argue" with the
crew, according to The New Yorker.
A spokesman for
the airline backed up the flight crew's behavior and
said their complaints to the men had nothing to do with the
fact that they were a gay couple. "Our understanding
is that the level of affection was more than a quick
peck on the cheek," he told the magazine.