“Disruptive customer” forced American Airlines flight to return to JFK

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 July 2023, 9:50 by Denis Chabrol

Joel Ghansham

American Airlines (AA) said a “disruptive customer” forced its Guyana-bound flight to return New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport Tuesday night, despite a denial by well-known Indian cultural activist Joel Ghansham that he misbehaved.

“American Airlines flight 2557, with service from New York (JFK) to Georgetown, Guyana (GEO), returned yesterday (Tuesday) to JFK due to a disruptive customer,” the airline told Demerara Waves Online News.

No details about the incident were provided, but the airline said “safety and security are our top priorities, and we thank our customers for their understanding and our team members for their professionalism in managing a difficult situation.”

The flight, AA 2557, departed JFK at 7:53 PM Tuesday but at 8:35  PM, at an altitude of 35,000 feet, diverted and returned to JFK Airport where it landed at 9:27 PM Tuesday.

Ghansham, in an interview on Wednesday, named two prominent Guyanese businessmen and the spouse of a top law enforcement officer who were present in business class and were witnesses to his encounters with a cabin attendant.

Ghansham admitted that he called a cabin attendant a “waiter” after that airline employee had minutes earlier refused to assist him to place his bag in the overhead locker. The passenger said the cabin attendant told him that he was not paid to perform such a task, although he explained that he had recently underwent surgery.

According to Ghansham, he objected to the manner in which that cabin attendant later leaned over and asked him if he wanted something to drink. He said the cabin attendant threatened to have the plane return to JFK airport.

On arrival, he said a policeman and a Transportation Security Administration questioned him. He was reportedly allowed to leave.