Air France cabin crew held in detention after woman denied seat upgrade

Air France cabin crew held in detention after woman denied seat upgrade

BUENOS AIRES — A child’s tantrum usually blows over within a few minutes, with minimal disruption to passersby. But an adult tantrum can result in the detention of several people and a political standoff between two countries.

According to, the daughter of a former Argentine justice minister was onboard Air France flight AF228 to Buenos Aires last month, during which she was denied an upgrade to business class, which was fully booked. Later on in the flight, she asked the flight crew to change her seat again due to her seatmate’s alleged “inappropriate behaviour”. Although the crew did not notice anything out of the ordinary, they accommodated the woman’s request and found her an alternative seat.

The crew thought that was the end of it – that is, until the plane landed in Buenos Aires. They discovered the woman had filed a complaint, which prompted the arrest of several members of the crew.

France’s SNPNC labour union, which represents cabin crew, reported that several employees were arrested by police and interrogated over a two-day period “under conditions that flouted fundamental rights.” The father of the passenger was also present to interrogate the crew.

To make matters worse, the SNPNC further noted that the flight crew’s purser was separated from the rest of the crew during questioning, and detained in a one-square-metre-sized room without food or water. He was kept under surveillance of two armed guards.

At the end of the day, everyone was released without charges, and without explanation. They were later repatriated to France.

After the SNPNC wrote to Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Foreign Affairs, an investigation into the matter was opened. The union is considering legal recourse.