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article imageFlight diverted to remove 'unruly' couple

By Arthur Weinreb     Jan 17, 2012 in Travel
Atlanta - A Delta Airlines flight from Atlanta to Costa Rica made an unscheduled stop in Tampa after it was alleged a couple demanded champagne and refused to sit down.
Peter Strohmaier and his wife Gabriele, of Dusseldorf, Germany, arrived in the United States last Sunday. Later that day they boarded a Delta Airlines plane at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, bound for Costa Rica.
The flight took off at 6 p.m. The captain later diverted the Boeing 757-200 and landed in Tampa at 7:34 p.m. The Strohmaiers were removed from the aircraft and the flight took off about 90 minutes later and continued on to Costa Rica.
According to Janet Zink, a spokeswoman for Tampa International Airport, the couple, who were travelling first class, demanded food and champagne and refused to sit down.
After Zink identified the German couple, they were contacted by the Associated Press at their Tampa hotel room. Gabriele told AP a member of the Delta crew "exaggerated enormously and felt terribly insulted." Her husband had merely expressed concerns over the food and drink. Gabriele added that neither she nor her husband had been standing.
Peter, who described himself as a lawyer, added he "did nothing except to say I would like to have the meal and so on...all normal things."
The Strohmaiers planned to catch another flight to Costa Rica, on a different airline of course.
Chris Helms, the local editor of the Jamaican Plain Patch was on the flight. He emailed writing, "We're landing in Tampa for a person to be taken off the plane." Helms added he was told by a witness that "the man was chastising a flight attendant and was warned they would land the plane if he didn't calm down."
The version given to Helms makes no mention of one or both passengers standing and refusing to sit down.
The incident occurred just two days after a Japanese man pleaded guilty to assaulting a Delta flight attendant on a flight from Tokyo to Honolulu five days earlier. Sohei Yamanouchi, 65, was fined $2,500 in a Honolulu court after admitting slapping and punching the flight attendant on her shoulder. Sitting in the business class section, Yamanouchi had four glasses of wine during the flight and had had a glass of champagne prior to takeoff.
The incident involving the Strohmaiers is being investigated by the FBI and the Transportation Security Administration. No charges have been laid.
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