Pastor's wife involved in flight disturbance
(12/19/05 - KTRK/HOUSTON) (KTRK) -- A dispute that involved the wife of Houston's most famous pastor, Joel Osteen, and a Continental Airlines flight attendant ended up delaying a flight for hours Monday. And now, Victoria Osteen's actions on that flight are in the spotlight.
The Osteens run the largest church in the nation, so passengers on a Continental flight were shocked Monday when Mrs. Osteen was removed from that flight after a disturbance.
Taking time off from the high profile hustle and bustle of running a mega-church, Lakewood Church Pastor Joel Osteen and his family boarded Continental flight 1602 Monday morning at Houston's big airport. They were bound for the slopes in Colorado.
Their trip was delayed and so was the entire flight by almost two hours. Fellow passengers blame the popular Osteens, specifically Joel's wife, Victoria.
According to passenger accounts, the Osteens were sitting in first class. Soon after the plane's door was closed, the FBI says Victoria Osteen was removed following what Continental would call only a disturbance. The Osteens' spokesman confirms it involved a flight attendant, but that's all. However, one passenger tells Eyewitness News she was alerted to the front of the plane when she heard a commotion.
"She violently ran towards the cockpit, scaring everyone around her," said passenger Knicky Van Slyke. "Everyone was terrified about what was going on. And a bunch of flight attendants ran up and had to restrain her. She was banging on the door."
"Of the cockpit?" we asked.
Passengers say Victoria was removed first. Joel and the children followed. Meantime, everyone waited.
"They unloaded all the luggage to get their luggage and deplaned her, Joel, and the kids," said passenger Dawn Dixon.
Passenger Chad Clay said, "They kept telling us they were waiting on some passengers to find their luggage underneath in the plane, and it was going to be delayed for looking for that luggage."
According to the Transportation Security Administration, federal air marshals were never involved. Local authorities also know nothing of this event. Continental would not discuss details.
The Osteens' spokesman denies a physical altercation, denies Victoria ever banged on the cockpit door, and says she left on her own.
"The account of the event which has come to our attention is inaccurate and overblown. The misunderstanding was minor and was resolved when Victoria voluntarily removed herself from the situation," read the statement.
The FBI says it was not voluntary. Though agents are not investigating, they will review the incident as the Osteens enjoy their Colorado vacation.
The Osteens' spokesman says they took another flight to Colorado Monday.
Nobody has been charged. As for the FBI's involvement, we're told it's standard procedure for them to review all passenger removal incidents. According to Continental, this one is a closed case.
Pastor Joel Osteen preaches to an average of 40,000 people a week at Lakewood Church services. Lakewood opened in the former home of the Rockets, Compaq Center, back in July. It took $90 million and a year and a half of renovations. Osteen's ministry is taped and aired around the world.
(Copyright © 2005, KTRK-TV)
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