Cash Or Credit Dispute Causes JetBlue Plane To Divert

Posted Jan 25th 2011 01:34 PMUpdated Jan 25th 2011 05:19 PM


A JetBlue flight diverted to Salt Lake City when a passenger, upset over having to have a credit card to pay for headphones, became so angry he later threatened to "take this plane down."

Kevin Theodore Simon, 45, of Venice, Calif., was arrested by the FBI in Salt Lake City on a federal charge of interference with a flight crew. He remained in jail following a federal court appearance today.

In details just emerging, FBI spokeswoman Debbie Dujanovic tells AOL Travel News Simon became increasingly unruly on the overnight flight from San Francisco to Fort Lauderdale.

The dispute "apparently began with a request for a headset and the flight attendant informed him they don't accept cash," Dujanovic says. JetBlue only accepts credit cards for onboard purchases.

According to the FBI complaint, Simon "became argumentative and later was denied an alcoholic beverage as well," Dujanovic says.

After other passengers complained, Simon was moved to another seat. But the incident further escalated when a flight attendant was moving something from an overhead bin and Simon said he was bumped.

"He demanded an apology and was given a toll-free number to file a complaint. And then he began spouting 'I will take this plane down.' At that point, the pilot made the decision to land the plane in Salt Lake City," Dujanovic says.

The Airbus A320-200 landed at Salt Lake City International Airport at 12:40 a.m. Monday.

A JetBlue spokeswoman says Flight 278 was diverted "due to an unruly customer," and that the TSA and law enforcement met the flight.

Airport spokeswoman Barbara Gann says airport police assisted in the arrest.

Other passengers were delayed two hours, and arrived safely in Fort Lauderdale.

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To my family and friends, those who love and care for me and those I love and care for, those I have known and those I will come to know,

In light of the blatant lies and insulting accusations made against my character about me and my conduct aboard Jet Blue flight # 278 from San Francisco to Ft. Lauderdale on January 23, 2011; I want to offer my sincere apologies to all of you for any embarrassment, shame or grief this event may have caused you.

First, I want to state that I am a proud and honorable American citizen as my father, George Simon Sr. (1924-1999) and my mother Shirley Simon (1928-2003) taught me to be and I assure you that I am very stable both mentally and emotionally as I will overwhelmingly prove in the following pages.

A dark blemish has been case upon the Simon family name and I fully intend on restoring the honor and integrity my parents worked so hard their entire lives to establish to all Simon family members both immediate and extended.

The true nature of what happened on that flight was that two Jet Blue employees (Stuarts) were so callous towards me, so rude towards me and then so insulting to me, for reasons I have yet to understand, that I insisted I have their names so I could forward a conduct report to their immediate supervisor. It is clear to me now that the two Stuarts concluded my complaint was valid and that their jobs (livelihood) were in serious jeopardy.

Their haphazard solution to save their jobs of influence . . . or more accurately . . . their delicate egos, was to trump me the only way possible. In order to mute my clam yet firm protest of their pathetic conduct and despicable customer relations they enforced their one and only desperate move. They charged me with the interference of an airline attendant, a Federal offense and a Class C felony. This is a most serious charge (accusation) anyone in the United States can be charged with and one of the most shameful if you are a patriotic American such as myself. But, it was their one and only recourse to save face and they willingly, and without consideration, accused me with malice of a personally violating offense believing any and all valid complaints of mine, against them, would be discredited with their highly professional and relatively quick assessment of me, my conduct, my state of mind and/or my supposed intentions.

Please keep in mind that until now, you have heard only one side of this despicable accusation. I will now present to you the real story of what happened. In addition, I will provide concrete and solid evidence that I did nothing resembling what I have been accused of and that I am more of a patriotic and honorable American and a child of God than most of you will ever meet, thanks to my amazing parents who, together, epitomized the word love and instilled in me the unconditional love of God.

What does not kill us only makes us stronger and this test of my will and faith has encouraged me to rise above and right the wrongs done to me, my family, my friends and my fellow countrymen.

If you would please remove all prejudice for only a few more minutes I would like to describe for you the events that brought me to that Jet Blue flight Sunday January 23rd, what happened on board that flight as I know it to be and what events took place immediately after I landed in Salt Lake City, Utah. And finally, documented proof that I am a patriotic American, that I am a philanthropist as my parents taught me by way of example and that I am more mentally stable than most anyone you or I know. The closest ailment I have to mental illness is a sleeping disorder.

On Saturday, January 22nd I received a call from a close friend of mine in desperate need. Her addiction to pharmaceutical drugs, prescribed after a horrendous car accident, escalated to such a level that she was ingesting enough chemicals to kill a horse. Seriously! I should know, I have been to more than eight of this country’s finest treatment centers; the last one I attended was where the two of us first met. Sunday afternoon, January 23rd, I decided to fly to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to assist her and her family in finding the very best long-term treatment center for her specific needs.

My one-year old rescue pup, Bear, and I had been staying at the dog-friendly Hilton in Scotts Valley (Santa Cruz), California while looking for a home and property to lease in the area. Bear and I checked out for the five to seven days I was to be traveling. Bear checked into a wonderful doggie hotel and me, on my way to Florida in hopes I would be back at the Hilton by Friday with Bear and our new friends there for as long as it took to find . . . not a house . . . but a home.

I don=t especially love long distance plane trips so I take Jet Blue whenever possible. The free T.V.

March 09 2011 at 2:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

military. Nope, don't buy it. I am willing to differentiate between one drunken nimrod and an actual threat. Diverting an entire plane full of people for one fool who is obviously not a real threat is simply overreactive spasticity.

January 28 2011 at 9:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John in Oakton

Same thing happened to me on a flight from San Francisco to DC. The woman next to me had only cash to buy a meal and drink, and United took only plastic. Stalemate. So I said "Give me the cash, I'll put it on my card." She gave me the cash, I bought my own and her meals, and case closed, no problem. Sometimes it takes a village. It's no excuse for the guy to act like a jerk, but heck, why didn't any of the other passengers sitting near him offer to solve the problem? At the most it's $5. (I made sure I had the cash in hand, btw, before handing over my plastic to the stew - I'm not a complete idiot.)

January 27 2011 at 1:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jonathan Little

I think this guy is a jerk but I also feel, and I don't know if anyone else said this, but what the hell, give him the stupid headphones to shut him up instead of inconveniencing the whole plane. Sometimes just giving someone a break especially over $2 credit charge, really would of saved everybody else so much hassle. my two cents...

January 26 2011 at 3:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yo Patty,Commentator ask a legitamate question,why the liberal mentally deranged answer.

January 26 2011 at 6:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David S.

Great -- a plane has to be diverted and inconvenience everyone else because of one jackwad. Hope he's put on the "do not fly" list.

January 26 2011 at 5:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The airlines are getting out of control since 911. They treat passengers like crap because they know they can get away it. Get upset and you are denied boarding...get upset TSA carts you away. They have cut out everything and want to charge you for everything. No meal but pay extra for that cash excepted....rediculous....and they wonder why the airline industry is in the shape they are has become just too much of a hassle to fly anymore....I personallly can't stnad it...

January 26 2011 at 4:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't know about Jet Blue but the last time I flew they had a kiosk where they sold a gift certificate type currency and it was posted that the airlines no longer accepted cash. It was free to switch cash over to their gift certificates.

January 26 2011 at 4:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sorry Brian. If you've ever been in a checkout line, you'll know that getting cash change is a lot faster than swipping a card. I can't count how many times multiple swipes, multiple pin entries have slowed a normaly fast "cash only" line. Besides, they went "card only" because they get a kick-back from the banks that issued the cards.

January 26 2011 at 4:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This man is obviously wound too tight.
How long were they in the air, before
they decided an emergency landing was
necessary ? 45 minutes ?

January 26 2011 at 3:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply