Or maybe both.
Hillen wants me to mediate his case with American Airlines after he and his wife were removed from an American Airlines flight from Santo Domingo to Miami.
When the Hillens boarded American flight 662 on Feb. 27, he asked a “steward” for help stowing his bags. The crewmember refused.
“He said loudly in front of a line of boarding passengers, ‘I don’t help with baggage. I’ve worked for this airline 22 years and have had two back operations’,” says Hillen. “When I asked him what his job was then on board, he retorted, again quite loudly, ‘To carry passengers off burning planes.'”
Hillen says he was shocked by the “rather uncouth” response. He asked to attendant how he could possibly save someone from a burning plane if he couldn’t lift a bag into the overhead bin. That didn’t go over well.
“He said aggressively, ‘Let’s go out on the tarmac and deal with this, just you and I, right here, right now’,” Hillen remembers.
Hillen says he stopped talking to the attendant, “sensing something was amiss with him.” He walked to his seat, sat down next to his wife, and told her what happened.
“Suddenly, this steward was bending over me, his face close to mine, repeating over and over, ‘Zip it, da’ya here, zip it. Or I’ll have you thrown off the plane. Just zip it’,” he says.
Hillen asked for the flight attendant’s name, and soon a supervisor was on the scene, warning him to “not be aggressive” with the crew.
Then, just before takeoff, he and his wife were escorted off the plane.
Of course, I asked why and was simply told the steward had requested it. I asked to speak to the captain and was brought to the cockpit. The captain said he did not know what the situation was all about but that both the steward and purser had requested my removal and that he had to do so.
Several passengers seated around us complained verbally, saying the situation was completely unfair, one passenger even standing up and threatening to leave the plane also.
Hillen complained to American. Its response? It stood behind the decision to expel him and his wife.
In the carefully considered opinion of our personnel, there were indications that your behavior was disruptive and a potential distraction to our in-flight personnel carrying out their duties, and we acted accordingly. We have the responsibility and authority to take necessary action to ensure the safety of our flights and the customers aboard them.
More specifically it was reported that you had become confrontational with our male crew-member over the issue of your carry-on luggage. As our female purser became involved in an attempt to defuse matters, this demanding and antagonistic demeanor was ultimately witnessed by her as well. The captain intervened and it was determined that you should not travel on Flight 662 that day.