A former senator was kicked off an JetBlue flight after growing frustrated with passengers who refused to obey a request given by the pilots, says a report from CNN.
Al D’Amato, a former Republican Senator from New York, was always known to have a knack for speaking his mind, and speak his mind he did.
On Monday, D’Amato was boarding JetBlue flight 1002 leaving out of Ft. Lauderdale International Airport. The flight was supposed to be enroute to JFK International Airport in New York, however it had suffered a serious delay of over 6 hours. As the boarding process began, the understandably agitated passengers were told by the pilot that, due to weight concerns, 10 of them seated in the front of the plane would have to move towards the back, CNN explained.
Layla Delarmelina, another passenger on the flight, gave further insight to the story, telling CNN when asked by the pilots to move, six passengers refused . She said that, “the captain wasn’t doing anything.”
This was apparently where D’Amato decided to act. Delarmelina explained to CNN that the former senator got up and confronted the people that refused to move. He then told the captain to “just pick people to move.”
Delarmelina reported that D’Amato called the passengers who had refused to move “idiots,” and that he said “the captain needs to grow some balls.” After which she says they kicked the former legislator off the plane.
A JetBlue spokesman Morgan Johnston told CNN, “The decision to remove a customer from a flight is not taken lightly. If a customer is causing a conflict on the aircraft, it is standard procedure to ask the customer to deplane, especially if the crew feels the situation runs a risk of escalation in-flight.”
CNN says that after D’Amato was asked to deplane, passenger Jacqueline Galante started recording the incident.
In Galante’s video D’Amato is heard attempting to rally the passengers to join his exiting in protest. He can be heard exclaiming, “stand up for what’s right and walk out with me. If you don’t, then what do you stand up for?”
According to CNN, one man joined the ex-Senator in his walk-off protest.
Some of the fellow passengers in the plane took to their social media outlets to support D’Amato with hashtags such as #firstamendment and #freedomofspeech.
@AlDAmatoNY Former State Senator of New York was kicked off JetBlue flight just for speaking out… #FreedomOfSpeech #FirstAmendment pic.twitter.com/d5AwutQDav
— Layla D (@laylafd31) January 10, 2017
CNN said the incident did involve authorities as D’Amato was escorted from the plane by Broward County Sheriff’s officers. However, the Sheriff’s Office referred comment to JetBlue, saying, “it’s not a law enforcement issue.”
D’Amato did explain his side of the story on Inside Edition.
CNN mentioned that JetBlue would not confirm the exchange of apologies, but that the passengers received a $200 voucher for future flights on JetBlue.