American Airlines banned a San Diego man from the airline over an incident that happened a few years ago. Then I will share my take after covering the details.

The 2019 American Airlines seat recline incident

American Airlines is being sued by a man named David Klein, who alleges he was wrongly banned from future flights with the company after a flight in 2019. This is the version of events that the lawsuit says is the case.

  • On March 29, 2019, Klein and his wife boarded an American Airlines flight from Tokyo to Los Angeles
  • Shortly after they were seated, a flight attendant told Klein to put his seat in the upright position
  • Moments later, before Klein adjusted his seat, the flight attendant passed by again, leaned over, and began to press the seat adjustment button under his armrest
  • Klein was surprised by someone making physical contact with him, so he “moved the flight attendant’s arm away and told her that he would adjust the seat himself,” which he immediately did
  • The flight attendant left, and there was no further interaction between her and Klein
  • Another flight attendant witnessed the incident and apologized to Klein for his colleague’s behavior, stating that she was “having a bad day”

Klein said he didn't think about it until...

This incident involves seat recline

How this seat recline situation turned into a lawsuit

Klein made reservations for himself and his wife to travel from Los Angeles to St. Maarten on American Airlines so they could attend a friend's 60th birthday party. The couple was surprised to discover that they were not allowed to fly with American Airlines.

American Airlines refused to explain why he was banned, though he believes that it was related to this year's incident, and that the flight attendant filed a report with the airline that wrongly accused him of not following safety instructions.

Klein asked American Airlines to let him travel with them again, but they didn't reply. He is trying to get a court order that would allow him to fly with American Airlines again. Klein claims that by not being allowed to fly with American Airlines, he won't be able to fly to certain destinations and will incur higher costs and a loss of time.

The traveler is now banned from American Airlines

My take on this American Airlines ban story

There is more to the story that I have to imagine. We only get one side of the story from the lawsuit. There are a number of things that stand out about this.

  • The guy kind of sounds like a jerk; he didn’t follow the flight attendant’s instructions, and then physically grabbed her when she reclined the seat for him; if his version of the events is that he “moved the flight attendant’s arm,” I can’t help but wonder what really happened
  • That being said, in order for a passenger to be banned over an inflight incident, they’d typically receive an official warning from the crew, and/or the airline would reach out to the customer and inform them that they’re banned
  • I wonder if the other details are 100% accurate, like another flight attendant apologizing that a colleague was having a bad day, and that there was no other interaction between the flight attendant and passenger
  • If there is a lot more to this story, then it seems silly to file a lawsuit, when that will presumably all come out

I am pretty sure that this isn't just as described, so I'm curious to see how this lawsuit progresses. If it is described, then American failed badly in communicating the ban to the traveller.

I’m curious what comes of this lawsuit

Bottom line

A man is suing American Airlines after he was banned from checking in for a flight. He believes he was banned because he got into a disagreement with a flight attendant.

The traveler said he moved the flight attendant's arm while she tried to upright his seat. I think there was more to this than what is being presented.

What do you think about this case?