In last week’s storm of political angst, two people on opposite sides of the divide were trying to leave the East Coast on Saturday evening.
Only one of them made it.
Scott Koteskey would later tell a radio show that an unidentified woman was interrogating anyone in a Donald Trump shirt as they boarded the Alaska Airlines flight to Seattle from Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport.
Koteskey wasn’t wearing one, although he was in the District for the inauguration — and said so when the woman asked, he told Seattle-based KVI-AM (570).
“I said I was here to celebrate democracy,” Koteskey said. “It was absolute zero to 60. She just came at me.”
He put his things in the overhead bin and slid past the woman and her husband into his window seat.
“She made it very clear she was disgusted by me,” he told the station.
She ranted for about two minutes, he said, before he started recording. By then, a flight attendant was trying to intervene.
“She’s just called me names and insulted me just for sitting down in the seat and saying I came here to celebrate,” Koteskey said.
“I’d like for him to change seats,” the woman said.
The flight attendant walked off to get help, and the woman turned to Koteskey.
“You pretend you have the moral high ground, but you put that man’s finger on the nuclear button,” she said. “That man doesn’t believe in climate change.”
She went on, as overhead bins snapped shut above her, until another flight attendant tried to make peace.
“I paid for this seat,” the woman said. “He’s in my space.”
“My husband just lost his mother,” she said.
“I’m terribly sorry for that,” the flight attendant said. “But that does not give you the right.”
The airline eventually called airport police, who boarded the plane about 5:30, according to a spokesman.
“We’re asking you to step off the plane now, please,” an officer told the woman in another clip.
She silently collected her things and followed her husband back into the terminal.
“Several passengers expressed concerns about her behavior,” said an airline official, adding that they refunded the woman’s ticket.
Some clapped in her wake. Some shouted “U.S.A.! U.S.A.!”
In his Facebook post, now seen by millions, Koteskey said he and his new seat mate spent the flight engaged in healthier political dialogue.
“The black man who took the seat next to me was a registered Democrat,” he wrote. “He and I had a very good discussion about the beauty of free speech and coming together.”
And earlier version of this post incorrectly transcribed a line in the video as “I hate this seat,” instead of “I paid for this seat.”