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How I Got on the Bad Side of Homeland Security...for No Reason

Dear Global Travel Review:

My story is growing all-too-common, for airline passengers like me have become increasingly victimized by stewardesses crying "terrorism" at slightest whim. Ralph Vartabedian documents this technique - itself a form of terror -in a 1/20/09 LA Times article. Though I wasn't a woman charged with terrorism for spanking her children (as detailed in the article), I was harassed and belittled by two US Air stewardesses who had me hauled out of my seat and brought before the Philadelphia police, homeland security and airline investigators.

On 9/27 on US Air flight 1208 I was on a honeymoon flight with my wife when a passenger behind me began kicking my seat. Upon asking him for some consideration he responded with "Do you want to have a problem?" I notified the attendants but they showed no interest in my complaint and instead began screaming insults at me. Here is just a partial list:

"What's wrong with you?"

"Shut up and stay in your seat!" (I was in my seat. I found out later this was a condition that could trigger charges of terrorism.)

"Didn't your parents teach you respect for your elders?"

"Sit on your hands like a good little boy and shut your mouth."

"I don't want to hear your nonsense, little boy!"

"Call security on him!"

When I calmly asked if they even knew what was going on, one particularly loud stewardess yelled "I don't need to know what's going on! Now shut up!!"

Upon landing I was hauled out of my seat and greeted by a bevy of officers and agents. I was asked again and again by USAir security whether I used profanity (I did not. But later I again found out that profane language is a trigger for the charge of terrorism.) Finally after a short investigation the officers found nothing actionable and sent me on my way.

Hundreds of times in the past decade flight crews have charged passengers with terrorism. It is telling that the vast majority of cases were dismissed. But if travelers are really creating scenes of "terrorism" why not make video recordings? We all know why, for if a jury were to view footage of the stewardess' activities I'd have my own airline.

My honeymoon was ruined by the staff of US Air's who yelled at us, mocked us, then hauled us before state and federal agents. And now they're doing everything possible to shield their own from accountability. I don't know if my wife will fly again or even have the courage to enter an airport. But I ask you and your readers' help in bringing my story to light and in so doing cleanse the skies of this abuse of power.

Neil Jessen

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