Luciana Bisignani, 48, was boarding a flight from Geneva to Venice on Sunday night when she ran into trouble.
“Treated like a criminal, handcuffed and taken to a cell, only for not managing to put my handbag inside a suitcase,” she was quoted in Il Mattino as saying.
Bisignani claimed that an air steward tore her identity card, while the police threw her to the ground and handcuffed her.
The airline however said the police were called because she "behaved in a disruptive way", not because her hand luggage was too big.
"The passenger were not arrested because she refused to follow the crew instruction, but because of her behaviour towards the police officers," easyJet said in a statement sent to The Local.
“easyJet’s cabin crew and ground staff are trained to assess and evaluate all incidents and act quickly and appropriately.
“easyJet takes all incidents of disruptive behaviour on board very seriously. The safety and welfare of our passengers and crew is easyJet's highest priority. We apologize for any inconvenience caused to fellow passengers,” the airline said.
Bisignani spent two hours in a jail cell before being released, after which she spent the night in the airport and bought a new ticket to return to Italy, Il Mattino said.