TWA Purser Paid Fuel Tab for Hijacked Flight With Credit Card
NEW YORK (AP) _ A purser aboard hijacked TWA Flight 847 used her personal credit card to pay for $11,000 worth of fuel after officials at Algiers airport refused to refuel the plane because TWA did not have an account there, TWA officials said Monday.
The airline will pay purser Uli Derickson’s bill, said TWA spokeswoman Sally McElwreath.
″We don’t have the bill yet, so we don’t know what company,″ Ms. McElwreath said.
Ms. Derickson was praised by passengers and crew members from the flight for her courage in dealing with the hijackers. She tried to interfere with the terrorists’ efforts to pick out those passengers with Jewish-sounding names, they said.
Shiite Moslem extremists hijacked the Athens-to-Rome flight June 14, forcing it to Algeria, then to Beirut, Lebanon, then to Algeria and finally back to Beirut, gradually releasing all but the American men aboard. The men were freed June 30.
According to an account of the fueling incident appearing in this week’s edition of Newsweek, the hijackers demanded in Algiers that the plane be refueled.
When one of the airport crew began shouting for a Shell credit card, Ms. Derickson pulled one out of her purse and the Algerians used it to charge 6,000 gallons of fuel. The same thing happened when the plane returned to Algiers from Beirut, Newsweek quoted TWA pilot John Testrake as saying, and Ms. Derickson wound up with about $11,000 in fuel charges on her card.
Ms. McElwreath confirmed the account.
Shell Oil Co. has no record of an account with Ms. Derickson or any unusually large purchases on a Shell card around the time of the hijacking, Jack Doherty, a company spokesman, said in Houston Monday.
However, a card could have been issued through any of the Royal Dutch Shell companies around the world, said Doherty.