An airline passenger is claiming she and three others were unjustly removed from a SkyWest flight by an attendant who snapped at her over her phone’s “airplane mode.”
Robyn Rodgers, from New York, boarded Delta Flight 4727 in Fort Wayne, Ind., on Saturday, USA Today reports. But just before takeoff, she says a flight attendant approached her and “rudely” instructed her to put her device on airplane mode.
Rodgers said she complied, but added that the attendant “menacingly stood over [her] with her arms folded,” Rodgers wrote on Instagram.
After telling the attendant she could handle putting her phone into airplane mode, Rodgers alleges that the attendant said, “If you’re gonna act like that, we can go back to the gate and you can get off.” Rodgers said she then held up her phone to show the attendant, only for the attendant to storm off and return a moment later, when she announced that the plane was returning to the gate.
Footage taken by a fellow passenger shows Rodgers, seated, speaking to the flight attendant, allegedly after the attendant announced the plane was returning to the gate.
“I showed it to you so that you would know, and you walked away, and you got mad,” Rodgers can be seen and heard saying.
“Ma’am, I know what I heard,” the attendant responds, though it’s unclear what she’s referring to.
“I’m not going to argue with you,” the attendant adds. “Several times during the instructions you were asked to turn your phone into airplane mode. That is the protocol that is done on every flight announcement, yes.”
“OK, so how do we rectify this without holding everyone else up?” Rodgers asks, to which the attendant responds, “You comply.”
After Rodgers says she did just that, another passenger pipes up and defends her, telling the attendant that she did, indeed, comply.
Just before the video ends, the attendant remarks that she has “zero tolerance” for the “attitudes” of the passengers.
Rodgers added in the caption that, shortly afterward, an officer boarded the aircraft and aided in deplaning all passengers, but she — along with the man who defended her, his son, and another woman who had earlier asked the flight attendant to sit down so the plane could leave — were singled out, and told they could not re-board.
Subsequent footage also shows a man, presumed to be an airport employee, confirming they were removed because they made the attendant feel “uncomfortable” and “unsafe.”
A total of five people were ultimately removed from the plane, USA Today reports.
Delta has not yet responded to a request for comment, but SkyWest, which had operated the flight as a Delta Connection, released a statement promising to follow up with the passengers.
"We take all allegations of discrimination seriously and are reviewing reports from SkyWest flight 4527 operating as Delta Connection. We are disappointed that our customers had this experience and are working with our partner Delta to follow up directly with the customers involved,” wrote SkyWest.
Meanwhile, Rodgers said the airline did not offer to pay for any expenses the displaced passengers incurred, but a Delta representative claimed otherwise to CBS 46.
Rodgers also suggested the incident may have been racially motivated.
“It was a traumatic experience and we have all seen videos of black people, and [people of color] being harmed or killed behind an unnecessary escalation of events instigated by an irrational, petty person,” she wrote on Instagram.
“This abuse of position and disregard for people’s basic humanity by @delta should not be tolerated.”