A Detroit man is facing federal charges after he allegedly drunkenly propositioned two flight attendants twice about joining the “mile high club” with him during his first-ever flight, federal prosecutors say.
James Finnister, 47, grabbed one of the flight attendants and laid down on the floor of the plane after he was moved a third time due to his “disruptive, intimidating behaviors,” on a Spirit Airlines flight from Louisville, Kentucky, to Orlando, Florida, this past Tuesday, a criminal complaint claims.
“The flight attendants were forced to stop service and pick Finnister off the floor,” the complaint states.
Finnister told authorities he consumed “multiple alcoholic shots to calm his nerves prior to the flight, which he stated was his first,” according to the complaint.
He was arrested on one count of interference with flight crew members, a charge that carries up to 20 years in jail.
Hours after he was released on bond Wednesday, Finnister told The Daily Beast the charges were “bogus,” and insisted he had been asleep most of the two-hour flight.
Finnister, who said he got drunk before boarding to ease his nervousness about flying for the first time, remembered the flight differently than federal prosecutors.
“When I first walked in the plane, I made a joke—I said, ‘This one of those mile-high flights?’” Finnister told the outlet. “They laughed and sat me by the window, [because] it was my first time flying… I was talking to a father and son next to me. We took off, I seen the clouds, and I fell asleep for two hours.”
The complaint against him paints a vastly different picture.
“[A]pproximately an hour into the flight, James Warren Finnister asked the lead flight attendant if she wanted to join the ‘mile high club,’” the complaint states. “Finnister was originally assigned to 18D, but never sat in that seat. At the time of this interaction with the lead flight attendant, Finnister was reassigned to 22A, which is a window seat.”
Finnister also allegedly “intentionally grabbed a female aircraft flight attendant when Spirit Airlines Flight 693 was in flight, pulled her into his seat, and asked her if she wanted to join the ‘mile high club,’ interfering with her ability to perform her duties,” according to the complaint.
He also allegedly asked the flight attendant multiple questions about the plane’s cockpit which “alarmed her,” the complaint alleges.
At that point, Finnister allegedly lay down in the aisle, interrupting the in-flight service and forcing flight attendants to pick him up, according to the complaint.
Finnister told the outlet he didn’t remember doing any of what the complaint, which was filed on Wednesday.
The first-time flier also insisted he didn’t put his hands on any of the flight attendants, and had asked questions about the cockpit out of curiosity.
“I asked about the cockpit, like, is this the cockpit up here? I never been on a plane, I wanted to have a look,” he said. “And so they took me to jail. The charges are so bogus. It really ain’t no charge.”
Finnister appeared in Orlando federal court Wednesday afternoon and was released pending trial. He is forbidden from drinking alcohol and must submit to regular drug testing.
His travel is also restricted to the state of Michigan, where he is from, and the Middle District of Florida