The biggest airline story of the day has been about a YouTube prankster who got kicked off a Delta flight from London to New York this morning. I shared my initial impressions of the situation, and then wrote a follow-up post about why I think it’s too soon to point fingers at/boycott Delta, given this guy’s history.
— Adam Saleh (@omgAdamSaleh) December 21, 2016
The prankster who was kicked off the plane has a history of lying about what happened on planes, and even of lying about being discriminated against.
Earlier today Delta issued the following statement regarding the situation:
We take all allegations of discrimination seriously and we are gathering all of the facts before jumping to any conclusion. Our culture requires treating everyone with respect. Furthermore, Delta people are trained to and frequently handle conflicts between passengers.
Maintaining a safe, comfortable and orderly onboard environment is paramount for every flight and requires the cooperation of all of our customers in conjunction with adherence to directions from our crew members. This is a Delta policy and is required by U.S. regulations as well as others governing aviation worldwide.
Two customers were removed from Delta Flight 1 departing London-Heathrow today after a disturbance in the cabin resulted in more than 20 customers expressing their discomfort.
We have spoken with the customers who were removed; they were rebooked on another flight. Plans are in place to immediately speak with our crew and other passengers when the flight lands this afternoon. We will provide an update once we have more information.
Now that the plane in question has landed in New York and the crew has been debriefed and multiple reports were collected from passengers, the following statement was issued:
Upon landing the crew was debriefed and multiple passenger statements collected. Based on the information collected to date, it appears the customers who were removed sought to disrupt the cabin with provocative behavior, including shouting. This type of conduct is not welcome on any Delta flight. While one, according to media reports, is a known prankster who was video recorded and encouraged by his traveling companion, what is paramount to Delta is the safety and comfort of our passengers and employees. It is clear these individuals sought to violate that priority.
So that’s at least some update, and I suspect we’ll learn a lot more over the next few hours and days as more passengers share their version of what happened.
I still think it’s too early to draw any conclusions about the incident, but at least Delta is taking the situation seriously, and is acting quickly. Given what we know, it sounds like the passenger was being disruptive. What we don’t yet know is whether there was any discrimination against his race or language.
In other words, what was the order of events? Was he discriminated against and then he acted out? Did he act out and then maybe a passenger made a racial slur? Was race not a factor here, but rather the guy was just acting crazy and looking to cause problems?
There are many ways this could play out, so we’ll just have to wait and see.