Elderly passenger vs. JetBlue flight attendant

Elderly passenger vs. JetBlue flight attendant »Play Video
KIRKLAND, Wash. -- An elderly woman claims a flight attendant assaulted her aboard a flight last November. But it is she who's now facing thousands in fines imposed by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Talat Tahaira claims a JetBlue flight attendant grabbed her arm and forcefully pushed her down the aisle and back to her seat. She said the incident occurred during her 30-hour trip from Pakistan back home to Kirkland.

Tired and aboard a nearly empty flight, Tahaira, 69, said she moved to an empty exit row to lie down and sleep. But a flight attendant immediately grabbed her and forced her into a different seat next to someone she didn't know, according to Tahaira's son.

"And (the attendant) asks this lady to explain to my mother not to move around. Otherwise, they're going to arrest her," Mat Chaudhry said.

But Seattle police didn't arrest her. Instead they questioned Tahaira for an hour after landing.

And the Federal Aviation Administration fined her $6,000 for disobeying instructions and assaulting a flight attendant.

In federal court the flight attendant testified she didn't want Tahaira to sit in the exit row because she's didn't believe she was physically capable of helping in an emergency. She also claimed she had to remove Tahaira from the exit row 15 times.

The flight attendant also posited an entirely different story -- that it was Tahaira who had grabbed her by the arm and yanked her down the aisle.

The claims are all a blatant lie, according Tahaira.

"No, that's not true," she said. "You can see I can't do it."

Tahaira is both diabetic and arthritic, and needs a wheelchair to get around.

Tahaira hasn't boarded a plane since.

"She says she was very scared," her son said.

A judge's ruling due next month will determine whether the FAA can issue a fine.

JetBlue refused to comment on the allegations. A spokesperson said it's against company policy to comment on pending cases.