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American Airlines
rebukes gay couple

American Airlines
rebukes gay couple


A gay couple says an American Airlines crew on a flight from Paris to New York in August overreacted to their mild gestures of affection by threatening to divert the aircraft.

An American 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.

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