A SkyWest (Delta Connection) flight attendant kicked off four passengers, including a child, for giving her “attitude” when she confronted a passenger for failing to place her mobile phone in airplane mode. Now that passenger is claiming the move was driven by racism.
Here’s what I can gather from what transpired. The FA asked passengers to place their phones in airplane mode. Not everyone complied (as is always the case) and she actually looked at mobile phone screens during her pre-flight safety check (most do not). The passenger featured in the video was one who did not initially have her phone set to airplane mode.
The question is whether the passenger argued or initially refused to place her phone in airplane mode. Based on where the video picks up, it isn’t clear. But what we see in the video is that the FA is angry at the passenger as the following back-and-forth ensues:
FA: I know what I heard. I am not going to argue with you. There’s no need for arguing. Crew instructions means crew instructions. Several times you were asked to turn off your phone. This is something that is done on every flight in the United States.
Passenger: I did it. I showed it to you!
FA: Now you have. Is it in airplane mode?’
Other Passenger: She was complying. I was right next to her!
FA: No she wasn’t.
Other Passenger: Yes she was. I was right here. I was right behind her.
FA: Would you like to stay too? I’m not going to take everyone with attitude. I have zero tolerance for it.
What Happened Next
I feel sorry for a FA who actually enforces this “airplane mode” rule because I cannot remember being on a flight in which anyone has actually placed their phone in airplane mode. But the rules do say that phones must be in non-transmit mode during taxi, takeoff, and landing. She was just enforcing the rules.
I’ve been scolded before for not placing my phone in airplane mode. From this video, it seems like all passengers were eventually compliant. It also appears, however, that the FA was angry at the “attitude” of passengers who seemed to disrespect her position of leadership.
She ordered that the captain return the flight to the gate and four passengers, including the two in the video plus a young child, were removed from the flight.
That strikes me as a total overreaction considering the passengers eventually complied with crew member instructions and I did not sense any “attitude” in the video, not that “attitude” is grounds for throwing someone off a flight.
We can only speculate about what happened before the video transpired. Maybe the passenger was rude. Or maybe the FA targeted her among other non-compliant passengers because she was black. That’s what the passenger is claiming.
SkyWest issued the following statement to a local CBS affiliate in Detroit.
We take all allegations of discrimination seriously and are reviewing reports from SkyWest flight 4527 operating as Delta Connection. We are disappointed that our customers had this experience and are working with our partner Delta to follow up directly with the customers involved.
I can see both sides of the argument. Perhaps the FA singled out this passenger because she was black. But perhaps the FA singled out this passenger because she initially refused to place her phone in airplane mode. In any case, I cannot believe four passenger ended up being thrown off the aircraft over a cell phone issue. Then again…