Now Delta Airlines has joined United as the latest airline to kick a passenger off a flight. This case involves Kima Hamilton, 39, who was trying to fly from Atlanta to Milwaukee on April 18th.
The flight was delayed on the tarmac for about 30 minutes, during which time Hamilton needed to go to the toilet, despite the standard rule that passengers remain seated in preparation for takeoff. So he asked a flight attendant for permission to do so, but was informed that he could not. As the delay continued, however, Hamilton’s need to answer the call of nature increased, so he got up and walked to the toilet anyway.
When he returned to his seat, the flight crew allegedly made an announcement over the intercom. “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,'” he told the Journal-Sentinel. “It escalated to that point that fast.”
Another passenger, Krista Rosolino, captured the ensuing events on video. Hamilton can be heard speaking to a presumed airline official. “Can you help me understand why? … I need more information, I haven’t done anything,” he said.
“We’ll discuss this outside, not here,” the official responded. “Come with me please. We’re not going to discuss this here.”
Hamilton then continued to plead his case:
“I’m not really clear … I purchased this ticket, I had an emergency and needed to pee, I tried to hold it the first time and I absolutely couldn’t, and now I’m being kicked off the plane? I haven’t done anything hostile.”
A second official later entered the scene and began speaking with Hamilton:
“Let me just explain, basically any time we are about to take off — for your safety, and for everyone’s safety — we need you seated, that’s the bottom line. … I understand you had an emergency and I’m glad you were able to take care of that. … However, there’s always protocol. … Because you were the person — I’m not saying who ’caused’ it — but because we had to come back, that’s why we say we want to talk to you about it. … This is not one of those scenarios where … we are forcing you off the aircraft or whatever … but in this situation, because we are inconveniencing everyone … we need to speak with you … and I need you to follow me up to the front desk, that’s all.”
But Hamilton remained skeptical. “You’re kicking me off the plane, I need you to be direct with that language — because this whole, ‘Let’s get off and talk’ … but then the door closes and hte plane takes off,” he said to the official.
In response to Hamilton’s accusation, the official said: “I’m trying to be 100 percent, I’m saying because we had to pull the plane out of rotation and and come back to the gate, we need to see OK, what the reason why? You and I are talking, but there’s more people are involved as far as right now.”
The explanation still did not satisfy Hamilton: “I don’t understand why I have to get off this plane. … I had to use the restroom. … Ever, never, ever has anyone had to use the restroom during takeoff?”
Ultimately, Hamilton lost the argument and left the plane. In a statement on April 26 to the Journal-Sentinel, Delta said of the incident: “Our flight crews are extensively trained to ensure the safety and security of all customers. It is imperative that passengers comply with crew instructions during all phases of flight, especially at the critical points of takeoff and landing.”