SEATTLE - A New York woman was arrested in Seattle after she tried to make herself more comfortable on her flight to Alaska.
She's now suing United Airlines after she spent days in jail because she says the flight attendants blew the situation out of proportion.
Jean Mamakos, 68, of Huntington said her jeans were ripped as officers pulled her down the plane’s aisle. She never made her ski trip to Alaska.
"They did handcuff me. There were three policemen who dragged me off the plane,” said Mamakos.
Police in Seattle, where Mamakos and her ski club were changing planes, were called aboard the United flight to arrest her.
One of the passengers recorded the incident.
Officer: “Do you want to come willingly or be arrested for trespass?”
Mamakos: “Whatever you have to do.”
Mamakos said she was resisting arrest because she had paid thousands in airfare for the round-trip flight and claims unfriendly flight attendants overreacted when she tried to move to an empty row after the doors closed for takeoff. It was the third leg of a long, cross-country trip, and she hoped to sleep.
"One of the stewardesses said, ‘Oh no you don't,’ which stopped me in my tracks,” said Mamakos.
Mamakos then moved toward the front of the plane.
"So I went forward and another stewardess came along and said, ‘Give me your credit card,’” said Mamakos.
Mamakos, a registered nurse, was in an empty exit row emergency seat and was told that sitting there would be a costly upgrade.
"At that point, I decided no, I'm not paying $109 and went back to my seat."
Once she was seated again in her crowded row, an announcement was made.
"I heard the captain say there is a lady who wants to get off the plane on this flight. So we have to wait. I didn't know that was me,” said Mamakos.
She said she was then surrounded by flight attendants.
"(They said), ‘You have to get off this plane.’ (I said),’No, I paid for this seat, and I’m going to stay here,’” said Mamakos.
Mamakos was eventually booked, fingerprinted, had a mug shot taken and then sent to the county jail. Her bags and shocked friends continued on to Alaska.
"They enjoyed their ski trip and I had an experience in jail,” said Mamakos.
Mamakos’ attorney said Mamakos spent three harrowing days in jail because courts weren’t open on the weekend. They are suing United for $5 million.
United wouldn't comment on the case, but a spokesperson said federal law requires pre-flight briefing for anyone seated in emergency rows, and added balance and weight safety regulations prevent onboard seat changes.