It all began on one of JetBlue’s 15 daily Fort Lauderdale – New York flights on July 2nd when a family’s one year old began kicking the seat of the passenger in front of her.
The girl’s mother says “she apologized to the passenger, and they exchanged words before the passenger changed seats.”
However that’s not JetBlue’s version of the story. The woman had a conversation and disagreement with a flight attendant about the altercation and the plane turned around. Officers came onboard and ordered them off the plane. They refused.
According to JetBlue the family of 5 wasn’t removed because the one year old kicked a seat. Instead it’s because of the threats the family made, and profanity used, in their altercation with the other passenger.
After a verbal altercation that included physical threats and profanities against a nearby customer, the aircraft door was reopened and our airports team politely asked the customers to step off to discuss the situation.
The customers refused repeated requests and our crew members deplaned the entire aircraft. Law enforcement escorted them out of the gate area and we provided a refund.
Later discussion with the airline and security staff were filmed. The family asks a flight attendant for an explanation of why they’re being removed, and he declines to engage telling them to contact the airline.
In the video, Raanan and Ifrah repeatedly ask for an explanation, and the flight attendant tells them they need to call the airline for further information. A Sheriff’s deputy steps into the conversation shortly afterward.
The family says JetBlue said they’d be rebooked to travel the next day but would be on their own for the hotel night and their bags weren’t offloaded “leaving them without clothes and baby supplies.”
However they showed up at the airport the next day to find they were banned from the airline and weren’t allowed to fly.
Now some passengers seem to suggest in the video background that ‘nothing happened’ and the passenger they had an altercation with reportedly accepted the family’s apology. Those are the arguments the family makes to suggest JetBlue was being unreasonable.
However we don’t see the altercation that occurred which set of this chain of events. And the family was certainly confrontational with crew. It’s hard to know whether or not it was a good decision to offload them, and difficult to second guess after the fact.
What I’m most interested in here is what JetBlue did to defuse the situation. They didn’t engage in any force to pull the family off the plane when they didn’t want to go. They deplaned all passengers on the aircraft.
Two months ago — a month after United’s David Dao passenger-dragging incident — JetBlue removed a family from a flight to Las Vegas over birthday cake. They defused that situation, as well, by deplaning the whole aircraft.
Other airlines have done the same thing, indeed United did it with a Seattle – Houston flight this week when passengers didn’t want to put a bag from under their seat into the overhead bin. (There was a language barrier, things escalated, and eventually the woman traveling with her mother who was in her 80s was arrested — after leaving the aircraft.)
Offloading everyone causes more of a delay. It’s more of an inconvenience for other passengers and more costly to the airline. But when everyone’s getting off, the passengers you want to offload generally do to. And they do without physical violence.
Especially with social media and video taping airlines apparently see this as reasonably-priced insurance.