A Texas man flying first class from Minnesota to Alaska to settle a dead friend’s estate allegedly forced himself on a flight attendant, calling him “beautiful” and kissing him on the neck, before wandering into the plane’s galley and breaking the pilot’s meal tray—only to later claim he didn’t recall a thing.
Taken together, David Alan Burk’s behavior aboard Delta flight 517 earlier this month created a “level 2 security threat,” according to a probable cause affidavit obtained by The Daily Beast.
The aircraft hadn’t yet taken off from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on the evening of April 10 when the 61-year-old Burk, who was in seat 5A, demanded a drink, the affidavit states. First-class passengers are entitled to be served beverages before takeoff, it explains. However, the first-class flight attendant, identified in the affidavit as “T.C.,” told Burk that he “ran out of time” and was not able to serve Burk his red wine.
Burk got upset but calmed down when asked for his meal order, the affidavit says. But he quickly reverted back to form, getting “snippy” with T.C. about his “predeparture drink,” according to the filing.
Once the flight took off for Anchorage, T.C. “made it a priority to give Burk his red wine,” the affidavit says. When T.C. tried to collect Burk’s tray after the meal service, Burk instead reached out for a handshake. After accepting the shake, T.C. picked up Burk’s tray and walked away.
About ten minutes later, Burk got up to use the lavatory, according to the affidavit. But before he reached the door, he stopped in the forward galley, where T.C. happened to be standing.
“Burk stood next to T.C. and told him, ‘Oh, you’re so beautiful,’” the affidavit goes on. “T.C. smiled and politely said, ‘Thank you.’ Burk then asked, ‘Can I have a kiss?’ T.C. replied, ‘No, thank you,’ to which Burk then said, ‘Okay, well on the neck then.’ While the plane was in flight, Burk then grabbed T.C.’s neck, pulling him toward Burk, and purposefully kissed T.C.’s neck. T.C. stated he was ‘very uncomfortable and caught off-guard’ by what Burk had just done.”
T.C. later told police Burk’s kiss made him feel uncomfortable, and he thought to himself, “What the hell just happened?” He said he thought Burk’s compliment about him being beautiful seemed genuine, and that he was surprised things escalated so quickly. Following the kiss, Burk told T.C. that he had “one of those Delta cards” for him, referring to cards the airline gives frequent fliers to hand out to employees in recognition of good service.
T.C. became so uncomfortable around Burk that he walked to the back of the plane and said he didn’t want to go back to the first-class cabin until Burk returned to his seat, the affidavit says.
Once T.C. returned, a group of other flight attendants told T.C. that Burk “had just broken the tray and plate containing the captain of the plane’s meal, which had not been served yet.” Alarmed, the captain contacted airport dispatch to report the incident.
A flight attendant agreed to switch places with T.C. but returned later to report that Burk, who the crew determined had drank three glasses of wine, had again gotten up to use the lavatory and appeared “wasted,” according to the affidavit. Burk then fell asleep, it says.
Upon landing, Burk was detained by airport police. During an interview with officers and FBI agents, he said he recalled using the restroom on his flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Minneapolis, but insisted he never used it on the Minneapolis-Anchorage leg, the affidavit states. He also claimed he had only been given one glass of red wine then slept the rest of the way.
“When asked if Burk kissed T.C., Burk stated, ‘[He] never kissed anybody,’” the affidavit says. “When asked if Burk recalled breaking a plate on a tray filled with food, Burk stated, ‘I didn’t even eat on that flight.’ When it was clarified that the plate of food and tray that was broken was near or on the cart located next to the front restroom, Burk replied, ‘I don’t recall going to the bathroom at all on that flight.’”
Burk, who refused to submit to a breathalyzer test, explained that he was in Alaska for the funeral of a friend and confessed that he had consumed “a lot” of alcohol prior to boarding. Burk appeared confused, according to the affidavit, which says he asked if he was being arrested for “something else” and not for what had occurred aboard flight 517.
“Does this have anything to do with why I’m in Alaska?” Burk asked before saying he was not in fact in Anchorage for a funeral but “because he is the executor of his recently deceased friend’s estate.”
Burk then asked the cops and agents, “Do you guys know who I am?” and made no further statements before being transported to the Anchorage Correctional Complex, where he was booked on one charge of interfering with flight crew members and one charge of making false statements. He was released April 13 on his own recognizance.
Reached on Thursday, Burk told The Daily Beast in a text message that his attorney would be “speaking with the prosecution today,” and that he would be available to comment on his case following the meeting. Burk’s lawyer, Lance Wells, did not respond to a request for comment. Delta Air Lines did not respond to The Daily Beast’s inquiry d by the time of publication.
Burk, who lives in the Arlington area, would not confirm details of his employment, but public records and state incorporation documents show a David Alan Burke of Arlington, Texas serving as president of Total Surrender Evangelistic Association, Inc. According to his LinkedIn profile, Burk works as a salesman for an electronic components manufacturer headquartered in Mansfield, Texas. In 2008, he pleaded guilty to hunting caribou out of season and paid a $500 fine, according to a review of Alaska state court records.
The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) in 2022 received 2,456 complaints about unruly passengers, opened 831 related investigations, and took 567 enforcement actions, resulting in almost $8.5 million in fines.
If convicted on both counts, Burk faces a combined maximum of 25 years in prison. He is due back in court on April 27.