Comedian Mo’Nique Booted From Plane in Chicago

Date: Tuesday, July 25, 2006
By: Staff

Comedian Mo’Nique was booted off a United Airlines flight in Chicago after a spat with a flight attendant and is calling for a boycott of the airlines.

The entertainer was en route to New York on Sunday to tape two episodes of “The View,” where she reportedly is being considered as a replacement for the departed Star Jones, when the incident occurred.

Mo’Nique, whose full name is Mo’Nique Imes, told the New York Daily News that a flight attendant challenged the star’s stylist when she put a hair dryer in a first-class bin. Mo’Nique was flying in the front of the cabin, but her assistant was in coach.

After an exchange of words, Mo’Nique told the newspaper the attendant told her: “Tell your people that the next time they have an attitude, they are being thrown off. ... Since 9/11, we don’t play around.”

Mo’Nique told radio listeners at WBLS in New York that she intended to boycott the airline and urged listeners to do the same. Yesterday afternoon, the Rev. Al Sharpton discussed the incident on his radio show and vowed his support.’s efforts to reach the star or her management team directly were not successful.

“The safety of all of our passengers and our crew is our top priority, and that we regret that Ms. Imes felt in any way that she was not treated with courtesy and respect,” Robin Urbanski, spokesperson for the United Airlines press office told

“When a situation occurs on a flight that causes a delay, or disruption, we must act in the best interest of all of our customers,” Urbanski said. “It was determined that the best course of action was to accommodate Ms. Imes on a later flight.”

Mo’Nique isn’t the only celebrity to run afoul of flight attendants.

In December, Victoria Osteen, wife of Joel Osteen, televangelist and pastor of the Houston-based Lakewood Church, was removed from a Continental airlines flight to Vail, Colo., after she “failed to comply” with a flight attendant’s request, according to a report filed by the airline to the FBI.

The partner of a British soccer star was kicked off a flight to the World Cup when she reportedly threw a tantrum when she was told she was carrying too much hand luggage.

Getting into a tiff with a flight attendant, even over something seemingly simple, could get the passenger ejected from the flight, at best. At worst, the passenger could face a fine or be jailed if the behavior is deemed an FAA violation. Interfering with a flight attendant is considered a federal offense.

“The bottom line is even if (the flight attendants) are overreacting they still have the final say,” Keith Alexander, who covers the airline industry for The Washington Post, told

“The only thing you can do,” he said, “is to bite your lip until you get where you are going” before complaining about treatment.

Corey Caldwell, spokesperson for the Association of Flight Attendants, concurs.
“It is against the law to interfere with a cabin crew member,” Caldwell told “And the language that defines interference is pretty wide, so there isn’t a lot of leeway.”
Caldwell said that flight attendants face a lot of pressure because they work long hours and there is a lot of work to do between quick turnarounds on flights.

“There is a lot to be done in a short amount of time. The job is high stress and you’re dealing with so many different types of personalities, not only among your co-workers but with your passengers,” she said.

“You combine these external factors of little sleep, fatigue, long hours, planes that don’t work right sometimes, combined with anything that jeopardizes the safety and security of the cabin” and you have a formula for low-tolerance for flippant remarks or arguments, Caldwell said.

Caldwell could not address the situation with Mo’Nique. “We’re not privy to the report of that instance,” Caldwell said, because airlines are not obligated to make public reports filed with the FAA after an incident.

“It’s not a clear-cut thing, if you talk back or you hit or you do this, this is what happens,” Caldwell told The cabin crew has ultimate discretion, though, to interpret interference and to take action. 

Posted by loni on 07/26 at 03:12 PM in Celebrity

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