Robert Alexander/Getty Images
Robert Alexander/Getty Images
While tensions are heightened over airline behavior following United Airlines' controversial treatment of Dr. David Dao, Delta is now being called into question for removing a passenger after he used the bathroom.
Kima Hamilton boarded a Delta flight from Atlanta to Milwaukee on April 18, but arrived in the city via Southwest Airlines. That's because he was taken off of the plane after he used the bathroom during a delay. According to a report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the plane had taxied to the runway and passengers were told they were third in line for take off. As one fellow passenger told the newspaper, the delay extended to about 30 minutes.
As he told the outlet, Hamilton suddenly felt he needed to use the bathroom and since the plane was not moving, he got up and walked toward the restroom. However a flight attendant told him they would lose their place in line, so he returned to his seat. After a half hour delay, the urge didn't go away and he quickly peed.
"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,' " Hamilton told the Journal Sentinel. "It escalated to that point that fast."
He spoke to two Delta agents one at a time, the encounters videotaped by fellow passengers and shared online. The first Delta agent asked Hamilton to speak with him off the plane, but he told the agent he didn't know why he was being removed and tried to explain the situation. However, the agent continued to insist they speak outside and then ultimately left.
Watched @Delta mistreat a paying customer today, refund his money, and tell him to find a new way from Atl to his wife and kids in Mke.— Krista Rosolino (@KristaRosolino) April 19, 2017
A second agent listened as Hamilton recounted what had transpired before asking him to get off the plane with him. The passenger repeatedly said he did not know why he was being removed and told the agent he had to be in Milwaukee the next day because he was chaperoning a field trip at the school where he works.
"You're kicking me off the plane and I need you to be honest with me. You're saying let's get off and discuss," he told the agent, per social media video. "I get off the plane and the plane takes off and then I'm at the mercy of whenever Delta decides to rebook me if Delta decides to rebook me."
According to the newspaper, eventually everyone was deboarded, but Hamilton was not allowed back on. "When I exited, there were FBI agents waiting for me with Delta personnel," he told the newspaper.
As Delta told E! News in a statement, "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."
Ultimately, after remaining calm during questioning, he was not arrested. Delta refunded part of his ticket cost and said he could pick up his checked luggage in Milwaukee.
He purchased a new ticket for a Southwest Airlines flight, which arrived late that night, for three times the refund he received from Delta.
As a fellow passenger described in a blog post online, a new person appeared in Hamilton's seat when they reboarded.