Smoking Woman In Air Rage

Flight diverted after passenger lights up cigarette, goes nuts

View Document

Smoking Woman In Air Rage

JUNE 19--Meet Christina Szele.

The 35-year-old New Yorker was charged yesterday with causing a disturbance on a JetBlue flight after she lit up a cigarette at her seat, punched a flight attendant in the jaw, and kicked and screamed when airline personnel tried to restrain her. Oh, Szele also allegedly threatened to kill one flight attendant and called him a 'dumb mother fucker' and 'fuckin' nigger.'

The JetBlue flight from New York to San Francisco made an emergency landing in Denver Tuesday afternoon following Szele's outburst, which is detailed in an affidavit filed along with a U.S. District Court criminal complaint.

Szele told investigators that she drank two beers prior to going to John F. Kennedy International Airport and downed three vodka drinks while onboard Flight 643, but noted that she had a 'high tolerance' for alcohol. She claimed not to remember lighting up a cigarette or slugging anyone (since she is not a violent person). But she did cop to cursing frequently and often using the 'F' word.

A passenger quoted in the affidavit recalled that Szele was 'speaking to herself,' adding that he 'heard and then smelled a match strike. I smelled cigarette smoke, leaned forward and saw the lit cigarette in her hand.'

Szele, pictured in a mug shot snapped last year following a disorderly conduct bust in California, was charged with assault and interfering with a flight crew, a felony carrying a maximum of 20 years in prison. A federal magistrate yesterday ordered Szele held in lieu of a detention hearing scheduled for June 23. (7 pages)