NEW YORK — A New York City man is suing JetBlue Airways for more than $2 million because he says a pilot made him give up his seat to a flight attendant and sit on the toilet for more than three hours on a flight from California.
Gokhan Mutlu, of Manhattan’s Inwood section, says in court papers the pilot told him to “go ‘hang out’ in the bathroom” about 90 minutes into the San Diego to New York flight because the flight attendant complained that the “jump seat” she was assigned was uncomfortable, the lawsuit said.
Mutlu was traveling on a a “buddy pass,” a standby travel voucher that JetBlue employees give to friends, from New York to San Diego on Feb. 16, and returned to New York on Feb. 23, the lawsuit said.
Initially, Mutlu was told a flight attendant had taken the last seat on the plane, but then he was advised she would sit in the employee “jump seat,” meaning he could have the last seat, the lawsuit said.
The pilot told him 1½ hours into the five-hour flight that he would have to relinquish the seat to the flight attendant, court papers say. But the pilot said that Mutlu could not sit in the jump seat because only JetBlue employees were permitted to sit there, the lawsuit said.
When Mutlu expressed reluctance to go sit in the bathroom, the pilot, who was not named in the lawsuit, told him that “he was the pilot, that this was his plane, under his command that (Mutlu) should be grateful for being on board,” the lawsuit said.
When the aircraft hit turbulence and passengers were directed to return to their seats, but “the plaintiff had no seat to return to, sitting on a toilet stool with no seat belts,” court papers say.
Some time later, a male flight attendant knocked on the restroom door and told Mutlu he could return to his original seat, court papers say.
Mutlu’s lawsuit, filed Friday in Manhattan’s state Supreme Court, says JetBlue negligently endangered him by not providing him with a seat with a safety belt or harness, in violation of federal law.
A JetBlue spokesman declined comment on the lawsuit Monday.