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Passenger Removed From American Airlines Flight for Calling Flight Attendant "Waiter"

Passenger Removed From American Airlines Flight for Calling Flight Attendant "Waiter"


A passenger was forcibly removed from an American Airlines flight because he referred to a flight attendant as "waiter."


On July 18, 2023, American Airlines flight 2557 was operating a regularly-scheduled flight from New York John F Kennedy Airport (JFK) to Georgetown Cheddi Jagad Airport (GEO) in Guyana. The flight was operated by a Boeing 737 MAX 8. 



Photo: AeroXplorer | Gautham Kurup


Prior to departure, the "disruptive" passenger, Mr. Joel Ghansham — a media influencer — had asked one of the flight attendants to assist him with storing his bags because of his back and neck issues.


The flight attendant reportedly told Mr. Ghansham: "I don’t get paid that kind of money but if you don't like it there is always another flight." This was only the beginning of the altercation between the passenger and the crew member.




The second altercation arose once airborne from New York.


While the exact situation is still somewhat unclear, Ghansham reported that the same flight attendant who had snapped back at him on the ground now abrasively asked him what he would like to drink, doing so by leaning forward from the row behind.


Photo: AeroXplorer | Ethan Peters



It's Ghansham's answer to this crew member which prompted the return to JFK for AA2557, as Mr. Ghansham reportedly told the flight attendant, "No thank you, Waiter".


A few minutes later, it was announced that the flight would be returning to New York-JFK, and once the flight arrived safely back in New York, Ghansham was removed from the aircraft.




This situation is notable as it marks yet another instance of a passenger causing disruptions on a flight in 2023. These types of incidents are sadly more common than before and need to be handled carefully to avoid negative press toward the airlines.

Gabriel Kramp
Student at the University at Albany, but grew up in rural Massachusetts. Dream job of aircraft dispatcher for Delta (favorite airline).

Comments (4)

truespirit I'm not complaining out the choice to "time out", just how it was done. The flight was late because of a late arriving FA. As soon as that FA arrived, we immediately boarded. From the moment the plane left the gate it was not delayed any noticeable amount of time. I'm sure the pilot had been in and out of EWR countless times and well aware of how long it would take to get from the gate to the runaway. And if he was that close to his "time out" I'm sure he could have told the ground controller that information so they could get him off the ground even faster. By all appearances, it looked like he simply went through the motions, making everyone board, full knowing we'd never take off. It was his way of giving his middle finger to the airlines before turning the plane right around verses instead of taking off, not caring about the 300+ he made board needlessly just minutes before either.
213d ago • Reply
Steven Of course there’s always 3 sides to every story, but this sounds absolutely absurd. The passenger’s comment of “waiter” was likely meant to be condescending, considering their described prior interactions… but two wrongs don’t make a right, and it sounds like the FA definitely had a hand in creating a nasty environment. As a frequent flyer I’m constantly seeing FA’s respond to passengers (unprovoked) with such awful and mean-spirited attitudes. Even when, most disappointingly, there are language barriers involved. On a recent UA flight my mother in-law asked the FA to help her with her biz-class seat shoulder harness before takeoff. My MIL speaks English well, but it is her 3rd (of 5) languages, so sometimes she stumbles., The FA made no eye contact and said “I don’t have time to deal with that right now” and walked off. So much for “here primarily for your safety.” Before every FA reading this comes at me: while it’s not saving the world, I agree that it’s hard work, it’s often under-appreciated, my mother was an FA, etc., I got it. Still, this story sounds like the typical power trip you see all too often these days by FAs. The tone set by the crew can make or break these situations and the high-horse attitude is getting tired.
213d ago • Reply
truespirit The pilot should be fired. Since when is calling someone a waiter even an insult? I suspect the pilot was tired, looking for any excuse to turn back around to JFK to get off work early. Cooler heads need to prevail. It's not worth $1000's in loss to an airline just because a flight attendant was called something they didn't like. This pilot deserves to be fired as much as the one that turned our plane around right at the edge of the runway, about to take off, just because his "time was up". Why the heck did he make us all board the plane then???!!!
213d ago • Reply
Devo As an airline pilot I can tell you that the decision to go back to the gate when you "time out" is the safest choice for all involved. Did you watch the movie Sully? First question if anything happens is why did you fly fatigued captain? Not worth my license and your safety.

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