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She Believed She Could Fly, But Not With That Voice

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Thursday May 16, 2013

A Brooklyn woman was removed from a commercial flight last week after she refused to stop singing. The flight was diverted to Kansas City and the woman was removed in handcuffs, still singing.

"A federal Air Marshal on the flight restrained, cuffed and detained the passenger. The captain declared an emergency and diverted to Kansas City. Police met the flight and took the woman into custody. The plane was refueled and continued to JFK -- landing with less than an hour delay," American Airlines told ABC News.

The woman, 50-year-old Margaret Gay of Brooklyn, New York, was on the May 9 American Airlines flight 4 from Los Angeles to New York's JFK Airport when she began belting out "I Will Always Love You," the Dolly Parton song covered by Whitney Houston in the popular 1992 movie "The Bodyguard." Halfway into the flight, American Airlines officials decided they had had enough of the "disruptive passenger." The Transportation Security Administration officials removed Gay in handcuffs, but declined to file any charges against her. After she calmed down, she was released and left the airport in a taxi.

It's not right, but it's okay, said frustrated fellow passengers when the pilot diverted the flight to Kansas City International Airport to remove the woman from the plane. According to witnesses, Gay was being loud and disruptive and interfering with the flight crew. Video of the incident indicates that the woman was singing both loudly and off-key. Airline employees could be heard saying, "No photos are allowed to be taken on the aircraft."

"The woman was being disruptive and was removed from the plane for interfering with the flight crew," said Kansas City Airport spokesman Joe McBride. "There was a federal air marshal on the aircraft, who subdued the woman and put her in cuffs."

The woman said that the incident was due to her diabetes-related condition that can cause her to become out of control. Reports indicate Gay was offered medical attention, but refused it.

The incident has sparked an online debate over whether American Airlines should refund her for the flight. Frequent flyer blogger Ben Schlappig posited that because Gay was not charged with any crime, none occurred.

"The part that’s most puzzling is that when the aircraft diverted the lady was interviewed and released without charges," Schlappig. "If she was actually interfering with the flight crew, am I wrong to think she’d be charged with something for that? So yeah, it sounds to me like her only crime was singing Whitney Houston songs poorly -- which is awesome."

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


  • WayGay, 2013-05-17 12:09:20

    Why is this news?

  • KB20, 2013-05-19 14:52:36

    how is this news? she wouldnt stop singig- of course she was going to be escorted off. it disturbs those around her who just want a nice rode to wherever, without listening to one incessent woman’s singing.

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