On Tuesday I posted about the story of a lady who was kicked off a US Airways flight between Phoenix and Portland after getting in a disagreement with the flight attendant.
It’s fairly common for passengers to be removed from flights nowadays, as airline employees have a ton of discretion post-9/11 to do things in the name of “security.”
What made this situation unique is that all of the passengers who witnessed her being removed from the plane were outraged at what happened, to the point that they talked to the captain after the flight.
Here’s the YouTube video of the passenger being removed from the plane, along with the caption:
This poor girl didn’t hear Tim (in aisle) the flight attendant ask her to move to let someone else by. Tim then yelled for her to move and it upset her, yet she still apologized to Tim. After sitting, the girl mentioned to a different attendant Tim was rude to her. Next thing we know, the girl is thrown off the plane. After the flight about 20 of us grabbed the pilot at the gate and complained. That shear number proves Tim was just being an ass. USAir/American flight 408 (Phoenix to Portland) Oct 11, 2015.
There are a couple of interesting follow ups to the story, which I think are worth examining.
First of all, Rants Of A Sassy Stew makes the following claim as to what “really” happened:
According to witnesses coming forward, Female Passenger (FP) was already angry as she boarded the plane. FA Tim was attempting to usher a military passenger to his seat in the exit row. FA Tim then politely asked FP to “please hold on” three times. THREE. TIMES. She refused to acknowledge him. FA Tim then asked FP if she had heard his requests. FP then walked by FA Tim and stated “Yes I did, you fucking faggot!” as she passed him.
Now on one hand I don’t want to doubt this story, but at the same time they don’t name any of the witnesses, and Rants Of A Sassy Stew is known for being rabidly pro-flight attendant (as you’d expect). So I’m not sure how much weight I’d put on those reports, since they conflict with any of the other people quoted regarding what happened. Playing the “derogatory term” card is easy to resort to in a situation like this.
Anyway, The Washington Post has a follow-up story today about the incident, with the 27 year old traveler’s recollection of what happened:
To hear the traveler tell it, the boarding of US Airways/American Airlines Flight 408 began in a manner no different from any other flight. There were lines, some crowding, some disgruntled passengers.
As she waited in the aisle to get to her seat, Fough chatted casually with another passenger in front of her. Then a flight attendant started yelling.
“Stay right there,” he shouted, in Fough’s account. “I asked you three times.”
Bewildered, Fough asked, “What’s going on?”
“You can get off this flight,” the attendant said. “I’ll kick you off of this plane right now.”
Fough recounted that while the attendant was wearing a button-up shirt with the trademark winged pin of flight crews, he had on neither a name tag nor the uniform that the other attendants were wearing.
After refusing to give Fough his name, she said, he dismissed her with a curt, “Go.”
At her seat, a bewildered Fough started sobbing. Other passengers were comforting her when the flight attendant appeared again. He started opening the overhead compartments around her seat. “Where’s your bag?” he said. “You’re getting off this plane. I’m going to kick you off this plane.”
All the eyewitness reports seem to back her story, and the only “source” who seems to have made a claim regarding the derogatory term was the pilot, who was presumably told that by the flight attendant:
Several of the other passengers on Flight 408 have since reached out to express their support, including one who said many of them approached the pilot after landing to complain. This passenger told Fough that the pilot said she had called another flight attendant — one Fough claims she never came into contact with — a derogatory term.
American has apparently been in touch with the passenger, and offered her a $250 voucher. She refused, since she never wants to fly American again, and is seeking legal counsel:
“We are in contact with the passenger and have apologized,” the statement reads. “We have addressed the issue with our team members to ensure we provide a consistent, quality travel experience for our customers in the future.”
Fough isn’t satisfied with the concession. After Byrne’s video appeared on the news, she said, a customer service representative contacted her and offered her a $250 voucher. When Fough told the employee she would never use it, she was offered the money in cash.
“That’s how you’re going to solve this problem?” said Fough, who is seeking legal counsel. “What about my rights?”
I’m not sure she’ll get anywhere seeking legal counsel, though I’m curious to see what comes of this.
There are two sides to every story. In this instance, everyone who has come forward seems to be backing the passenger. Based on the short clip we see of the flight attendant, I’m not especially inclined to believe him given his attitude.
For that matter, assuming she did call him a derogatory term (which I think is terrible and unacceptable), I’m not actually convinced that should be grounds from being removed from a plane. Unless there’s a safety issue and they really thought she posed a threat to the flight, I’m not sure what taking her off a flight and rebooking her on another one would accomplish.
It’s one thing if American said “we don’t stand for such comments, and will refund your ticket and refuse to transport you.” But I’m not sure what exactly is being accomplished by removing someone who used a derogatory term and rebooking them on another flight. And that’s assuming she used that term, which seems unsubstantiated…
What do you make of this situation?