On a flight from New York to Washington, D.C., this weekend, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) took issue with a flight attendant’s request to turn off his cell phone, calling her a “bitch” after she walked away.
According to Politico, the attendant asked both Schumer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who was sitting next to him, to turn off their phones so the plane could take off. Schumer resisted, asking if he could finish his call. When told “no,” he kept arguing, according to Politico‘s witness, a House Republican aide.
He eventually hung up. After the attendant walked away, Schumer turned to Gillibrand and called the attendant a “bitch.”A few minutes later, his phone rang again. “It’s Harry Reid calling,” Politico‘s source quoted Schumer as saying. “I guess health care will have to wait until we land.”
“The senator made an off-the-cuff comment under his breath that he shouldn’t have made, and he regrets it,” Schumer spokesman Brian Fallon said.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee jumped on the story, blasting out a press release that calls the episode an “air rage incident.” The NRSC release also links to a Washington Post story from January, in which Schumer apparently had a commercial flight leave 15 minutes early so he could make a Senate vote. (For what it’s worth, the NRSC claims that left passengers stranded, but the Post reported that everyone got out on time.)
The NRSC has demanded an apology.
Gillibrand’s office told Politico that Schumer was “polite” with the flight attendant. Her office did not immediately answer a request for comment from TPM.
Late update: Schumer apparently called the flight attendant personally to apologize.