Grandmother arrested after refusing to delete JetBlue fight video

Marilyn Parver filmed an altercation between two passengers on a recent JetBlue flight. When she refused to delete the footage from her video camera, she says the airline threatened to blacklist her and accused her of interfering with a flight crew, which is a federal crime.

You can read the account of Parver’s flight and subsequent arrest here. And look for Parver on ABC’s Good Morning America, along with the incriminating footage.

Parver contacted me yesterday to, as she put it, “get the word out.”

I am a 56-year-old grandmother who has never had so much as a speeding ticket. But on July 26th, I was taken by armed officers, in handcuffs, off JetBlue flight 195 for refusing to delete a video I had taken of a minor altercation between passengers over a screaming kid.

The flight crew made up a charge of interfering with the crew. My recording proves I did nothing wrong. I never even stood up. I was left with the threat that I will never be able to fly on JetBlue, that I will go on the no-fly list, and have a report written about me filed with the FAA.

I only refused to delete a legal short video. This is a complete misuse of power and what happened to me could happen to anyone.

I’m not a lawyer, but I can’t find any rules that would prohibit a paying passenger from filming the interior of a JetBlue aircraft or of any commercial plane. Parver said she phoned JetBlue later, and that a representative told her she could tape whatever she wanted.

My reading of the law — and again, I’m no expert — suggests the JetBlue flight crew overstepped its boundaries. In a big way.

I asked Parver if she would consider posting her footage to the Web so that we could see what the fuss was about. She said the JetBlue crew specifically told her they didn’t want the material posted on YouTube, which is why they were so insistent that she delete the videotape.

Instead, Parver is taking her case to ABC News, where its legal department can fend off any attack from JetBlue. I think that’s probably a smart move. YouTube might delete the footage, anyway.

This case underscores the travel industry’s sensitivity to the growing influence of social media, and particularly to viral videos. Makes me wonder how many other passengers have been asked to delete images that were not flattering to an airline.

Update (12/2/10): Parver has sued JetBlue.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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