Assaulted JetBlue passenger wants policy changes

Man police say was attacked by fellow passenger wants drink limits on flights

By Francesca Amiker - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A man who police say was assaulted by a fellow passenger on a JetBlue flight Sunday sent a detailed account of the incident to News4Jax.

A Virginia man was arrested in connection with the dramatic outburst that detectives said happened on the flight, which landed in Jacksonville.

According to the arrest report, Joseph Sharkey, 36, not only assaulted the flight crew but also got physical with Kyriakos “Dom” Doukas, placing the fellow passenger in a chokehold.

Doukas sent News4Jax a letter making some demands about the company’s alcohol policy, because Sharkey was seen drinking alcohol on board the flight.

Doukas, who was on his way home from Washington's Reagan National Airport on Sunday after visiting with friends, said he went to sleep almost immediately after boarding the flight. He said he woke up with about 20 minutes left on the flight and was confronted by a passenger who he said appeared to have had too much to drink, which is why he's making a specific request.

Airport police were seen restraining Sharkey in a video. They said he was intoxicated during the incident.

Doukas said he was told by another passenger that Sharkey was “hammered before boarding” and that “as passengers waited for the FBI another flight attendant told him that he served Sharkey four rum and cokes during the flight.”

JetBlue has since tried offering Doukas compensation for the incident, which he said he's rejected. He instead made the following request:

"I do hope JetBlue reconsiders one of my requests, which is to implement an internal policy of one alcoholic beverage per legal passenger per hour of a flight.”

Local attorney and former pilot Randy Reep said the likelihood that JetBlue will change its policy is slim.

“For a company to change their policy to the lowest common denominator there is extraordinarily unlikely,” Reep said. “It's similar to being in a bar and someone saying, 'I don't want people to leave the bar drunk.' Nobody wants that, but it is not the bar's job to monitor the personal responsibility of other people.”

Reep is familiar with airline practices in these situations. He said this one incident won't change company policies, but JetBlue does hold some liability.

“Think about it this way. The victim of this violence, if you will, he can't retreat, maybe 10 feet away, but that's as far as he can get. He can't even extract himself,” Reep said. “I'm sure when he bought his plane ticket, he didn't think that he was going to a bar. He thought he was going from point A to point B, so there is some… I can understand why JetBlue wants to make this go away, but changing their policy on how they sell their products is probably not the resolution.”

Doukas said he’s had to go into counseling and just wants to move forward after the incident.

Sharkey has been charged with assault or intimidation of a flight crew. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.

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