The First Amendment of the American Constitution guarantees freedom of speech.
But some airline employees haven’t gotten the word.
Yes, what you say can get you thrown off an airplane–or worse. And it doesn’t have to be anything even remotely like a threat.
- In May, 2011, a US Airways flight was due to depart San Francisco International Airport for Charlotte, North Carolina at 1:20 p.m. But due to bad weather, passengers boarded the plane after 2 p.m.
Once on the plane, a flight attendant told customers over the intercom to hurry up and put their carry-ons in bins so they could take off and make their connecting flight in Charlotte.
One of the passengers, Luke Hazlewood, turned to the person next to him and said it was the airline’s fault they were late, “so don’t get mad at us.”
The flight attendant rushed out of the galley demanding to know who had said that. Once she determined it was Hazlewood, she told him he would have to leave for being disruptive and a threat to the plane.
Sandra Kraus, a former flight attendant, came to Hazlewood’s defense–and the flight attendant told her to get off the plane as well.
Both passengers asked to speak with the captain but he refused to speak with them.
Kraus was put on another flight. Hazlewood and his accompanying girlfriend (who had left the plane with him) found that US Airways wouldn’t compensate them for a hotel room.
The airline refused to answer questions about the matter. Its written statement said “The passengers interfered with the flight crew and in the interest of safety they had to be removed.”
It’s a truism in both journalism and police work: When people refuse to answer questions, it’s nearly always because they know they have something to hide.
And the airline’s response came in the classic voice of the all-powerful dictator: “They refused to treat me like God and so they had to be eliminated.”
Business Insider ranked US Airways #6 on a list of Click here: The 19 Most Hated Companies In America – Business Insider
- In December, 2011, three middle-aged women were thrown off an AirTran flight at Palm Beach International Airport after a steward began roughly handling the luggage of one of them.
Marilyn Miller, a lawyer, was buckled in for takeoff when the attendant mishandled her overhead luggage. “I have breakables in that,” she said.
The attendant ignored her and kept shoving other bags into hers.
Another passenger, Carol Gray, a retired travel agent, asked the same attendant for help, saying that her seat was broken.
“I’m not talking to you,” said the attendant, and poked her in the arm. He then threatened to throw Miller and Gray off the plane.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” said Miller.
“Well, you’re getting off,” said the attendant.
Two sheriff’s deputies and airline staff arrived to remove them.
A third passenger, a therapist named Karyn Schoor, spoke up in their defense: “This is crazy, they didn’t do anything. Why are you doing this to them?”
“Throw her off too,”’ ordered the attendant.
All three women were marched off the plane and back into the terminal.
The women were offered flights on other airlines paid for by AirTran.
And the official explanation given by AirTran?
“Our employees are responsible for the safety and comfort of everyone onboard a flight. Our goal is always to mitigate any uncomfortable situation prior to departure.”
Uncomfortable for whom–the passenger who doesn’t want her luggage roughly treated? Or the attendant whose ego gets bent out of shape at the slightest objection?
- In July, 2010, Southwest Airlines removed a slender, five-foot-four woman from a plane to accomodate an obese passenger.
The woman was flying standby from Las Vegas to Sacramento. She had paid full fare for the last available seat, boarded and stowed her bags–and was told she must deplane immediately.
The reason: A late-arriving, 14-year-old passenger required two seats because of her girth.
When the woman asked Southwest personnel why she was being removed her from the flight, they berated her for daring to question their decision.
The temporarily stranded passenger managed to catch the next flight out to Sacramento.
- You don’t have to assault someone to be thrown off an airplane. Even kissing your partner will do.
Southwest Airlines kicked Leisha Hailey–who not only plays a lesbian in Showtime’s The L-Word series but is one–and her girlfriend off a flight to Los Angeles.
Their crime? Kissing.
A flight attendant told them that Southwest was “a family airline.” When they argued they were targets of homophobia, the attendant ejected them from the plane.