Couple Files $10 Million Lawsuit Against Airline's 'Failure' to Intervene in Passenger's Ice-pick Threat

Thomas Cook Airlines
A Thomas Cook Airlines operated Airbus 330 aircraft is reflected in a window as it prepares to land at London Gatwick Airport, south of London, on December 21, 2018, as flights resumed following the closing of the airfield due to a drones flying. - British police were Friday considering shooting down the drone that has grounded flights and caused chaos at London's Gatwick Airport, with passengers set to face a third day of disruption. Police said it was a 'tactical option' after more than 50 sightings of the device near the airfield since Wednesday night when the runway was first closed. BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images

The gleaming gold heart overlaid on the grey tails of some of the Thomas Cook Airlines jet fleet elicits a toasty, tingly sensation and solidifies its "Born to Fly" tagline.

However, a pair of vacationing retirees who hopped the German airline Condor flight on October 16, 2018, said they suffered a verbal barrage lodged by a passenger who allegedly "threatened to kill" them with an ice pick.

The 70-year-old married couple claimed their Portland, Oregon–bound flight from Frankfurt, Germany, was fraught with protracted fears of danger allegedly spouted off at them by a most unruly passenger.

On Friday, Charles and Mary Ellen Hagen filed a $10 million lawsuit in Oregon's federal court accusing both Condor and Thomas Cook Airlines, its parent company, for ignoring their repeated protests to allow them to switch seats or intervene while a passenger seated behind them was becoming increasingly belligerent.

"As a result of Condor's intentional failure to act, the [Hagens] suffered intense emotional distress and anxiety," read the complaint, reviewed by Newsweek.

A Condor spokeswoman sent Newsweek an e-mailed response:

"We always try to make our guests feel comfortable onboard our aircraft, regardless of their booking class," she wrote. "We are unable to comment on any pending legal proceedings and we appreciate your understanding in this matter."

Before suing, the elderly couple tried to make a formal complaint with the airline, according to Shannon Sims, their attorney.

"We made a complaint and they acted like they were going through it," said the complainants. Then by the holidays, they stopped talking to us. They just didn't talk to us at all."

Prior to takeoff and prior to landing in Portland, where the problem passenger (described by Sims as being in her thirties and identified in the document as "Passenger 1") was arrested "on outstanding warrants," she was described as a clear and present problem.

Sims confirmed the warrants originated out of Bend, Oregon, but didn't specify the nature of the purported crime or crimes.

It's unclear if the flight was full, but Sims confirmed that "they could have moved them."

From the first, Passenger 1 was coming off as a troublemaker.

"Almost immediately the [Hagens] noticed a female passenger sitting directly behind them acting strangely," the papers read.

The woman's voice grew louder, and the Hagens noticed that she was allegedly "engaging in erratic behavior," according to the complaint. Much of the woman's odd demeanor featured "outbursts of profanity and incoherent rambling."

Her behavior drew the ire of the person seated next to her, and the complaint suggested that that person "asked to be moved" and the Condor flight crew "accommodated this request."

But when the Hagens asked to be reseated, "the flight attendant denied the request," the complaint stated.

A flight steward allegedly "asked Passenger 1 what drugs she was taking," the complaint read, and she answered that "she had taken antibiotics."

Promises were allegedly made to the Hagens by the Condor flight steward that "he would keep an eye" on Passenger 1, according to the complaint. But "he never returned."

Thomas Cook / Condor Airlines
A passenger airplane of German airline Condor, owned by travel agency Thomas Cook, taxis at Schoenefeld Airport during the ILA Berlin Air Show on June 9, 2010 in Berlin, Germany. The German government recently announced that it will impose a flight-departure tax as part of a financial austerity package aimed at cutting the federal budget by EUR 80 billion by 2014. Many airlines have already protested against the proposed measure, citing the hit they've already taken from flight cancellations due to Iceland's volcano. Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Once the plane took off, Passenger 1's alleged fits took flight with her "making obscene references" and even "punching the back of the [Hagenses'] seats," according to the complaint.

Charles Hagen rose from his seat and, the complaint suggested, beckoned the flight crew for assistance, but "no one would help."

The Condor flight crew avoided their "portion of the plane" where the Hagens were seated, forcing them to suck up the abuse.

Four hours into the flight, the complaint continued, Passenger 1 allegedly belted that "she wanted to 'act up with a f---ing icepick.'"

When they made more protests to the flight crew, the Hagens said that they were patronized. A Condor flight steward told the Hagens that "people like Passenger 1 were common in Portland" and that due to the airline's "affordable" fares, "this type of person was more common."

As their fears for their well-being rose, so too did Passenger 1's petulance.

With Charles Hagen making his case with the flight crew, his wife was apparently forced to deal with Passenger 1, according to the complaint, "violently shaking" her seat and making a direct threat that "she wanted to kill Mary Ellen with an ice pick."

Mary Ellen Hagen rose from her seat "in fear for her safety" and tried to appeal to "four or five" members of the Condor flight crew, but, as first reported by Courthouse News, her "pleas were met with indifference."

"The flight crew was condescending and rude, and left Mary Ellen, who was in fear of being murdered by Passenger 1, in tears and afraid to return to her seat," the complaint read.

The passenger's ranting allegedly spread to the entire flight, where the complaint noted that she "began shouting that they [the passengers] were being kidnapped."

Police soon met the alleged ice-pick-threatening pest of a passenger, and she was booked for having "outstanding warrants," the complaint confirmed.

Sims, the attorney for the Hagens, said it was a wonder why the woman was allowed to be able to join the Hagens and others on the flight to the States.

"The main thing is they shouldn't have even boarded this plane with this person," he said.