Passengers on their way to Toronto, Canada were held on the tarmac at Boston Logan International Airport for about two hours because of a mechanical malfunction on the aircraft. During the delay, the passengers claim an airline staff member forced them to delete video recordings from their phones and threatened to have them arrested if they did not comply.
Those aboard the Porter Airlines flight last weekend were ordered to deplane and wait inside the Boston airport terminal after their flight was canceled.
"There was a problem with the latch door to the luggage compartment and when it passed 10 o'clock apparently the crew couldn't fly anymore because…in their words, they would turn into pumpkins," Kira Wegler, a Toronto resident flying back from Florida, told Canadian television network Global News.
Passengers were informed the PA system was broken and had to line up to receive information about their flight. It was then that frustrated flyers pulled out their phones to videotape the Porter staff addressing customers, which led to the threats, passengers claim.
"At that point, the personnel came from behind the desk and started threatening us, to call the police if we don't delete the videos off of our phones and show evidence that it's gone from our trash bin," said Wegler.
“They were going to have us arrested,” she continued.
Wegler said many complied with the rules and deleted the recordings, but she decided to keep some on her phone despite the threats.
In the videos, Porter staff explains that video recording is not permitted in the airport because of security rules – which is false.
According to a statement from Massachusetts Port Authority spokesperson Jennifer Mehigan to Newsweek, “There is no law or policy that prohibits filming inside Logan Airport except in secure areas and of all security procedures.”
A Porter Airline spokesperson Brad Cicero told Newsweek that the company “apologizes to everyone who was affected by the flight delay and for the information provided about taking video.” Cicero blamed the incident on a misunderstanding by the staff.
"We do not have any policy that would prevent people from taking video at airports," he continued. "There is an airport policy at Boston Logan Airport about not allowing filming in secure airport areas and at security screening. In this particular case, there was a misunderstanding by the team member involved that taking video beyond the security checkpoint was part of the secure area and was not permitted. He did not realize the distinction at the time, but we have advised the team members involved for future reference."
While Cicero apologized for the flight delay, which he says was caused by the “bomb cyclone,” the massive storm that hit the East Coast over the weekend, he denied passengers allegations that anyone was threatened with arrest.
"While it was indicated at the time that police based at the airport could be called to address this situation, there was no direct statement that passengers would be arrested,” he said to Newsweeek.
Passengers were forced to stay in Boston for three extra days while waiting to be placed on a flight to Toronto.
Porter provided hotel accommodations for those stuck and compensated some meal costs, but refused to offer additional payment to passengers.
Airlines are typically not held financially responsible for passengers if a flight is delayed because of weather-related problems, which is what Porter insists was the reason for the grounding – not mechanical issues.
"The conditions were such that, after arriving, one of the aircraft doors froze," Cicero said to Newsweek. "It could not be fixed prior to the crew exhausting their regulated duty day limits, preventing the flight from departing."
He continued, "Because the root causes of the cancellation were weather related, we assisted with finding hotels in the area for those who needed accommodation. Porter does not typically pay for these costs when flights are affected by weather, but we do our best to help find reduced rates."
"We understand that this is frustrating for anyone who has a flight delayed for multiple days. It isn't our intention to put people in this situation, but the severe nature of the storm resulted in significant effects,” he said.