Recent events are enough to make one wonder if major airlines are participating in a “let’s see who can treat passengers the worst” competition.
First it was the Dragging and Dropping of Dr. David Dao, a 69 year-old man who was “forcibly removed” from United Airlines flight 3411 while fellow passengers watched in horror earlier this month. The incident culminated in a massive PR nightmare for the airline, with widespread, viral social media coverage – and loads of public support for Dao.
A few days later, a scorpion fell from an overhead bin and stung a man who was on a United Airlines flight.
Then, the following week, American Airlines got in on the action: A female passenger holding a young child and a male flight attendant got into quite the scuffle. A fellow passenger recorded that incident, and the video shows the woman in tears, a male passenger jumping up to defend her, and the flight attendant challenging the male passenger to a fight. Surain Adyanthaya, who posted the video, wrote that the flight attendant had forcefully taken the stroller, hitting the woman with it and just missing her child. That sequence of events did not appear on the clip.
And, a few days ago, Simon the Giant Bunny mysteriously died in a pet holding facility while waiting for a connecting United Airlines flight. The rabbit was only 10 months old and was reportedly in great health prior to the flight.
Next up: Delta.
On April 18, Kima Hamilton was on a Delta Air Lines flight heading to Milwaukee from Atlanta’s Hartsfield–Jackson International Airport. The plane had left the gate and was waiting on the tarmac for about 30 minutes. Passengers were told they were third in line for takeoff.
That’s when Hamilton realized he urgently needed to use the restroom.
He explained how the situation escalated to Jim Stingl of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Hamilton felt a strong need to urinate and figured it might be OK. “We weren’t taking off. We were still. The plane isn’t moving,” he said.
I asked Hamilton why he hadn’t used a restroom earlier. “I don’t normally pee right before I get on the plane, and I’ve never had a problem like this before. I don’t remember drinking an abnormal amount of water,” he said.
He walked to a restroom at the rear of the plane. A flight attendant there said if he used the restroom they would lose their place in line. So he sat back down, but the urgency grew stronger. Hamilton returned to the restroom and this time went in and quickly did his business. It beats making a mess right there in your seat, right?
“The pilot came on and said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I’m sorry for the inconvenience but we have to return to the gate and remove a passenger,’ ” Hamilton said. “It escalated to that point that fast.”
Two Delta agents approached Hamilton and told him to exit the plane. Hamilton refused because he knew they wouldn’t let him back on.
The following two videos show those conversations.
Fellow passenger Krista Rosolino and her husband, Mike, both lawyers in Milwaukee, were sitting with their infant daughter across the aisle from Hamilton. Rosolino said it was outrageous that Hamilton was kicked off the flight and that everyone else was forced to exit the plane when it returned to the gate in Atlanta. She wrote an open letter to Delta, in which she outlined the incident and defended Hamilton.
Here the opening paragraph from Rosolino’s letter:
On Delta flight # 2035 this week, I observed the most outrageous treatment of a paying customer that I have seen in my two decades of flying. I trust that you will investigate this matter and see that similar situations are handled better in the future. Not only did your staff truly harm and humiliate one person who was forced to pay hundreds of dollars for a new same-day flight, but you forced the rest of us passengers to endure a 2 hour saga of watching a man being targeted for having a bathroom emergency. I am disappointed and horrified at how Delta Airlines staff treated their customers/passengers.
Hamilton said, “It was already understood and decided that I was a problem and I was getting kicked off the plane. When I exited there were FBI agents waiting for me with Delta personnel,” adding that he was thankful that Mike Rosolino stood by his side throughout the ordeal.
Delta Air Lines is defending itself by stating federal law requires passengers to comply with crew instructions or run the risk of being seen as a security threat. Sure, that makes sense, but…does an uncomfortably full bladder somehow signify danger?
Maybe airlines are taking cues from the TSA’s ridiculous “terrorism signs” checklist, which includes alarming behaviors like “exaggerated” yawning, “excessive” throat clearing, gazing down, and…whistling. Meanwhile, the TSA has made some embarrassingly stupid – and sometimes dangerous – mistakes, which include being totally oblivious to massive gun-smuggling operations, employee misconduct incidents, insider threats posed by airport employees themselves (including terrorist activities), and failing undercover security tests that involved smuggling explosives and banned weapons.
In her open letter, Rosolino also wrote:
While we were waiting, I spoke with another Delta Airlines passenger from a different flight, DL566 from Melbourne, FL to Atlanta. The same thing happened on her flight: while waiting to taxi, TWO people used the restroom. However, that situation was handled very differently. The flight attendant informed the pilot not to move because two people were using the restroom; when the two passengers returned to their seats, the flight attendant informed the pilot that the people had returned to their seats… and the plane continued to taxi and eventually take off. No return to the gate. No removal of a passenger.
There’s no doubt that flight attendants have to deal with obnoxious and sometimes potentially dangerous passengers.
But using a bit of common sense in dealing with situations that “break rules” seems like a good idea. Too bad that common sense isn’t so common these days.
Delta should brace for bad PR impact, because it is already starting…
Delta Airlines kicks off a man from one of their flights… for peeing.
So all US airlines will no longer treat people as human beings.
— So Say We All (@HenYay) April 27, 2017
— Koaie (@KoaieHayn) April 27, 2017
@KoaieHayn I guess to fly delta you have to wear a diaper.
— Stand Up & FIGHT (@PrincessGoatKwn) April 27, 2017
Delta Airlines denying the right to urinate (today), American fighting over strollers… United is a mess. Competing 4 most idiotic?
— Marc Kuffler (@mrkuffler) April 27, 2017
— Avilasha Satpathy (@badgirl_avi) April 27, 2017
— PeachsInGa (@PeachsInGa) April 27, 2017
Delta Airlines couldn’t resist joining the #AirlinesSuck club! No potty checks for those sitting on the tarmac waiting forever to takeoff!
— Terry Seyler (@the_terrinator) April 27, 2017
— DixieDarlin (@RealityTV_Guru) April 27, 2017
Good question…IS this is a common thing, and we are just now hearing about it?
This person says they were allowed to use the restroom…
— Mechelle (@Sage41_M) April 27, 2017
— Lee (@whitney_land) April 27, 2017
Flying is already difficult for me. I cannot imagine having to have a confrontation to use the bathroom. I will drive #DeltaAirlines
— Tierra Hughes (@CapricornLife89) April 27, 2017
— Stephen Mao (@StudioMao) April 27, 2017
Another stupid move by an Airline. DELTA really does stand for Doesn’t Ever Leave The Airport.https://t.co/8Am31Grh4O
— Gene Valaitis (@boltthedog1) April 27, 2017
If it were a child needing to go to the bathroom what would of #DeltaAirlines do?
— Lupe (@PitaBread_3) April 27, 2017
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