Scott Kotesky had no idea how eventful his flight from Baltimore to Seattle was going to be – and how much extra leg room he would have.
Armed only with a cell phone, he smiled at his fellow passengers – a husband and wife – as he took his window seat next to the unidentified woman.
She had one question for him: “Did you come here to cheer or to protest?”
“I came here to celebrate democracy ma’am,” Kotesky recalls saying.
Much of the dialogue is caught on video, but here’s the way Kotesky recalls the chain of events.
Her: “You put a crazed man in charge of the nuclear codes! You should be ashamed!”
Kotesky: “Well we’re all entitled to our opinions here ma’am.”
Her: “And I’m entitled to get drunk and puke in your lap! I’m going to throw up right in your lap! You make me sick! Don’t talk to me! Don’t look at me! Don’t you dare even put your arm on that rest. You disgust me! You should be ashamed of yourself! You put a maniac’s finger on the button. You are a bigot. You should get off this plane!”
Kotesky: “Ma’am, by definition, bigotry is disparaging someone prior to knowing them simply by their beliefs and opinions. Thank you for being the very thing you preach against.”
Kotesky says he told a flight attendant the woman insulted him.
“Is there going to be a problem?” the flight attendant asked the woman.
The woman told the flight attendant: “I told you I would like him to change seats with somebody …”
The flight attendant cut her off: “Well, you don’t have that right.”
The woman continued to berate Kotesky.
“You pretend you have the moral high ground but you put that man’s finger on the nuclear button. That man doesn’t believe in climate change,” she said, using air quotes for dramatic effect.
As a gate attendant attempted to intervene, she continued the verbal barrage.
“Do you believe in climate change?” she asked. “Do you believe in gravity? Because did you know gravity is just a theory?”
“Will you grab your belongings and come with me?” the attendant asked her.
Refusing to leave the plane, she said, “I paid for this seat and I’m sitting here. He’s in my space.”
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As the attendant patiently and repeatedly asked the woman to exit the plane, she said, “I’m going home now. We had to be here. My mother-in-law died.”
The woman and her husband, who was sitting next to her, attempted to negotiate with the attendant, trying to remain on the plane.
“Fine, I’ll be quiet.”
“I’m not going to allow that,” he responded, before informing the woman the captain wanted her off the plane.
Another video, taken from across the aisle, showed the woman sneering at the Trump supporter, then at passengers behind her before police escorted her off the plane.
Passengers cheered as she carried her belongings and exited the aircraft. Someone briefly chanted “USA, USA.”
“So I get a whole row to myself?” Kotesky asked.
A woman nearby suggested to Kotesky drinks were on him.