Gay couple rebuked for "kissing, touching" on flight

Fly

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American Airlines Flight 45—departin Charles de Gaulle at 10:40 A.M., arriving J.F.K. at one each afternoon—is a tourist’s delight: timed just right to avoid late checkout, leaving time for one last Kir Royale at Les Deux Magots. On August 22nd, the coach cabin was packed with vacationing New Yorkers. Ralph Jackson (21A) and David Leisner (21B) were returning from two weeks in France, while Huffa Frobes-Cross (21F) had stopped over in Paris on his way back from South Africa. Assigned to seats 20A and 20B were George Tsikhiseli, a television journalist, and his writer boyfriend, Stephan Varnier. “We’ve been together only four months,â€￾ Tsikhiseli said last week. “So it felt like a honeymoon.â€￾
Twelve days earlier, British police had foiled a terrorist plot to blow up airliners. Heightened security had delayed the flight by about two hours, and passengers, by the time they boarded, were ready to relax. “I had a José Saramago book I was looking forward to reading,â€￾ Leisner said. “And then I was going to take some melatonin and have a little nap.â€￾
Shortly after takeoff, Varnier nodded off, leaning his head on Tsikhiseli. A stewardess came over to their row. “The purser wants you to stop that,â€￾ she said.
“I opened my eyes and was, like, ‘Stop what?’ â€￾ Varnier recalled the other day.
“The touching and the kissing,â€￾ the stewardess said, before walking away.
Tsikhiseli and Varnier were taken aback. “He would rest his head on my shoulder or the other way around. We’d kiss—not kiss kiss, just mwah,â€￾ Tsikhiseli recalled, making a smacking sound.
In the row behind them were Leisner and Jackson. “They were like two lovebirds,â€￾ said Leisner, who is a classical guitarist. Frobes-Cross, a Columbia grad student who was sitting across the aisle, had overheard the stewardess’s decree, too. “First thing I catch is ‘You have to stop touching each other,’ â€￾ he said. “And I’m, like, Whoa, that’s really weird.â€￾
Leisner and Jackson, who were “astounded,â€￾ leaned forward to ask if they’d heard correctly. When Tsikhiseli and Varnier confirmed that they had, the four men summoned a stewardess and asked to speak with the purser.
A little later, the purser appeared at Row 20. She was, by all accounts, calm and professional; to the men’s surprise, she said that she knew nothing about the incident and had not instructed the stewardess to tell Tsikhiseli and Varnier to stop touching each other.
“Which stewardess was it?â€￾ she asked.
One of the men pointed out the stewardess—a woman with, as Jackson put it, “Texas hair, like from the nineteen-sixties.â€￾ According to Leisner, the purser rolled her eyes and said, “Oh, say no more. I know.â€￾
The purser asked the men to describe what they’d been doing, and she acknowledged that their behavior had not been inappropriate. Tsikhiseli then asked if the stewardess would have made the request if the kissers had been a man and a woman. Suddenly, Leisner said, the purser “became very rigid.â€￾ Contradicting what she’d told them before, she stiffly said, “Kissing is inappropriate behavior on an airplane.â€￾ She then said that she was busy with the meal service and promised to come back.
Half an hour later, the purser returned, this time saying that some passengers had complained about Tsikhiseli and Varnier’s behavior earlier. The men asked more questions. Who had complained? (She couldn’t say.) Could they have the stewardess’s name, or employee number? (No.) Would the purser arrange for an American Airlines representative to meet them upon landing at J.F.K.? (Not possible.) Finally, the purser said that if they didn’t drop the matter the flight would be diverted. After that, Leisner said, “everyone shut up for a while.â€￾
Maybe an hour later, the purser approached Tsikhiseli and said that the captain wanted to talk to him. Tsikhiseli went up to the galley and gave the captain his business card. The captain told Tsikhiseli that if they didn’t stop arguing with the crew he would indeed divert the plane. “I want you to go back to your seat and behave the rest of the flight, and we’ll see you in New York,â€￾ he said. Tsikhiseli returned to coach.
Tim Wagner, a spokesman for American, said that the stewardess’s injunction to the men was reasonable, and would have been made whether the couple was gay or straight. “Our passengers need to recognize that they are in an environment with all ages, backgrounds, creeds, and races. We have an obligation to make as many of them feel as comfortable as possible,â€￾ he said. (He added, “Our understanding is that the level of affection was more than a quick peck on the cheek.â€￾) But a customer-service representative named Terri, reached last week on the telephone, offered the opinion that kissing on airplanes is indeed permissible. “Oh, yeah! Sure. I’ve seen couples who are on honeymoons,â€￾ she said. “They just don’t want you to go into the bathroom together.â€￾






— Lauren Collins

The New Yorker

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Huh??? Reminds me of the movie "Anger Management". What did they do wrong?
 

Bill

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Mar 3, 2004
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Just my opinion but I wouldn't want to watch two guys doing whatever it is two guys do.....would you???? And believe me, I'm no homophobe, you know, to each his/her own but I've got kids and I don't want my young ones seeing gay "relations". Obvious ones according to this story. Just not ready to explain that one yet. And before you go balistic on me I'm not ready to explain heterosexual kissy-touchy-feely behavior yet either. The birds and the bees....that's my wifes job!! :up:

I think the actions of the crew were appropriate, maybe a bit extreme (like threatening to divert the plane) but appropriate none the less.


GET A ROOM!!!!!!!
 

Flyboy4u

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Oct 6, 2002
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Just my opinion but I wouldn't want to watch two guys doing whatever it is two guys do.....would you???? And believe me, I'm no homophobe, you know, to each his/her own but I've got kids and I don't want my young ones seeing gay "relations". Obvious ones according to this story. Just not ready to explain that one yet. And before you go balistic on me I'm not ready to explain heterosexual kissy-touchy-feely behavior yet either. The birds and the bees....that's my wifes job!! :up:

I think the actions of the crew were appropriate, maybe a bit extreme (like threatening to divert the plane) but appropriate none the less.
GET A ROOM!!!!!!!
You're kidding me with this remark, right? Last time I checked this was the 21st century not the 1960's. I would hope that you could tell your kids the truth of what really goes on in the world instead of lying to them. Have you told your kids that babies are delivered by the stork also?
 

LCC_#1

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As a 20 years f/a, I am becoming more alarmed at the paranoid, self righteous behavior displayed by many crew members in this industry. PLEASE, if one more person uses 9/11 or terrorist attacks to justify power trips, I'm going to throw up.

I am 44. I don't have to be all kissy with my partner.(so happens I'm gay) BUT I also have been single for a long time and know that I would probably be abit more kissy if I met Mr. Wonderful. In my 20 years of experience, I have NEVER seen any couple,straight or gay, act inappropriately with demonstrative behavior. I can say that I have seen both gays and straights hold hands and kiss and all have used the utmost of taste.

If ANYONE has a problem with two men holding or stealing a kiss, they need to take a look at what is driving that fear...and that is EXACTLY what is driving it. I don't know of a single straight man or woman that is comfortable with their sexuality that would care whether two guys steal a kiss or hold hands.

It sounds as if American spokes people are covering the greater problem. Let us not forget that the ONLY reason AA "appears" to be so gay friendly today is because of that bad press pillow and blanket stunt by the employees in DAL in 1993. How soon we all forget. I guess some of the AA employees never learn. BTW, we have them here at US as well. I love how the captain of that aircraft was willing to put his airline, crew, and country at risk by being out of the cockpit to show that he, the straight pilot, would not put up with a customer protesting homophobia (which it was) on HIS aircraft.

The POWER TRIPPING in this industry MUST STOP!! One can be smart without being paranoid.
 

Kev3188

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Oct 5, 2003
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Right in the middle.
Just my opinion but I wouldn't want to watch two guys doing whatever it is two guys do.....would you????


As long as they weren't leaning their seatbacks into my "space," I wouldn't have cared less.

Merely kissing (or "mwah-ing" as they so eloquently put it in the article) doesn't cross any kind of decency line in my book. That goes for any couple, by the way; gay, straight or otherwise.

Bill--

Try explaining to your children that love is a wonderful thing, and those among who find it are really quite lucky.
 

Wretched Wrench

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Apr 21, 2003
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As a 20 years f/a, I am becoming more alarmed at the paranoid, self righteous behavior displayed by many crew members in this industry. PLEASE, if one more person uses 9/11 or terrorist attacks to justify power trips, I'm going to throw up.

The POWER TRIPPING in this industry MUST STOP!! One can be smart without being paranoid.

Well said.

.
 

Bill

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Mar 3, 2004
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As long as they weren't leaning their seatbacks into my "space," I wouldn't have cared less.

Merely kissing (or "mwah-ing" as they so eloquently put it in the article) doesn't cross any kind of decency line in my book. That goes for any couple, by the way; gay, straight or otherwise.

Bill--

Try explaining to your children that love is a wonderful thing, and those among who find it are really quite lucky.

Just not ready or willing to go into detail to 5 and 3 yr old children about why 2 men are huggin, touchin' and squeezin' thank you very much. Like I said I don't have a qualm one way or the other but don't go making out in front of kids (and don't tell me there weren't kids on that flight!)....GAY OR NOT. I just don't think it is appropriate. Show some kind of restraint and save it for private !!!!
 

Bill

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Mar 3, 2004
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You're kidding me with this remark, right? Last time I checked this was the 21st century not the 1960's. I would hope that you could tell your kids the truth of what really goes on in the world instead of lying to them. Have you told your kids that babies are delivered by the stork also?

No Flyboy I'm not kidding. I just don't feel it is appropriate GROWN-UP behavior (for anyone) to be exhibiting such behavior in a public place. ESPECIALLY WHEN THERE ARE CHILDREN PRESENT.

Just curious Flyboy....do you have kids????? By the way, I DO tell my kids that the stork brings the babies. I don't think that a 5 yr old and a 3 yr old are quite ready to hear about sex yet. DO YOU????????? Kind of like the concept of telling kids about Santa or the Easter Bunny.

When I, as their father and protector, feel they are old enough to understand such things then I will tell them. But until such time SHOW SOME FREAKIN' RESTRAINT!!!!!

21st Century my arse!!!
 
OP
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Fly

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Are you serious???? You told your kids that the stork is real?!? LMAO

OOOOkkk. Tell us, do you kiss their mother in front of them?

fyi - tell them the truth from the beginning and they'll never be surprised later. And yes, I do have kids.
 

Garfield1966

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Just my opinion but I wouldn't want to watch two guys doing whatever it is two guys do.....would you????

That, in my opinion is a homophobic remark. The connotation and the words are all there. Straight couples get away with far more on a daily basis and not a word is said. The flight attendant should be at the very least reprimanded and docked pay. The Pilot should be forced to do community service in the gay community. Probably would not help the SOB but it would make me feel quite a bit better. Tim Wagner ought to be asked who the hell told him to say that and they should be terminated on the spot. The purser needs to get a spine at wal-mart.

Crap like this makes me embarrassed to work for AA. MY only consolation is that pin heads like this work for all companies.
 

Bill

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Mar 3, 2004
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Are you serious???? You told your kids that the stork is real?!? LMAO

OOOOkkk. Tell us, do you kiss their mother in front of them?

fyi - tell them the truth from the beginning and they'll never be surprised later. And yes, I do have kids.

Laugh if you will Flyboy. Your perrogative. And yes we do kiss in front of them but we sure don't touch and fondle each other such as these two men werre supposedly doing on the airplane. I guess you think that would be okay too?????

I swear, it is impossible to debate any issue on these boards without being judged and tried. All I said was that kind of behavior on an airplane was not appropriate. I could care less if they were gay or not.

And flyboy.....do you honestly think I should sit my 5yr old daughter (just turned 5 by the way) and my 3 yr old son down and tell them about the birds and the bees, how babies are made and born and also tell them what it means to be gay? By your response, (if your kids are old enough) I take it you HAVE already had this sex education converstaion with your kids when they were 5 and 3.

And about the stork thing.....do you tell your kids Santa is real?????? The Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy????? What's the difference Flyboy?????????? A lie is a lie, right?????

When she comes in from the fields maybe she could have a talk with them.



....meaning what??????? I guess you didn't see my :up: when I made that comment????? Geez, quick to judge aren't we TW?????
 
OP
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Fly

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Actually, I'm Fly(GIRL). I'm straight and have been married to my kid's father for 18 years. And yes, I told them the WHOLE truth. Nothing to be ashamed about so no one ever acted strange. And to be clear, we never 'sat them down' and had a talk. If they asked a question, we answered it. Didn't matter to me if I was cooking dinner or shopping at the store. I didn't go into details, just answered the questions asked. If they saw two men together holding hands or kissing and asked, it was a very simple answer: they love each other.

They were definitely younger than school age when they heard the entire truth. As for Santa and the Easter Bunny......Jewish, so does not apply. The tooth fairy....That's not real????