I’m sure just about everyone remembers Dr. Dao, who was dragged off a United Airlines flight after refusing to give up his seat on an overbooked flight. It quite literally made global headlines for days (if not weeks), and became a huge turning point for United.
Well, a Facebook user shares what allegedly unfolded on a July 17 TAROM flight from Bucharest to Cairo, RO101.
I’ll share the Facebook user’s full account below, but to summarize succinctly:
- A family of three was asked to move because they were in an exit row; they didn’t speak English or Romanian, and also weren’t assigned those seats
- The family became aggressive, and the mother ended up spitting at a flight attendant
- Security officers got on the plane and requested that the family get off the plane, per the captain’s orders
- Due to heat and stress on the plane, several people ended up getting sick, and paramedics had to be called
- After about two hours everyone was removed from the plane, and the flight ended up being delayed by several hours
There’s video footage of the family being removed from the plane, and it sure is uncomfortable to watch. A few interesting notes:
- A passenger says “the captain is not God,” and the response is “yes he is God, here he is God”
- Overwhelmingly the passengers are in support of their fellow passengers staying on the plane, and take an aggressive approach towards security
- The plain clothes officer seems exclusively focused on making sure the situation isn’t recorded, though good on the lady for continuing to record
- Allegedly the security officers left their guns unsupervised in the cabin while trying to drag the guy off the plane
Here are the two videos:
This is unpleasant to watch, and it’s dehumanizing to see someone dragged off a plane like that. At the same time, based on what we know this isn’t like the Dr. Dao situation, where he was dragged off a plane because he refused to give up his confirmed seat.
In this case the passengers did wrong, based on what we know — you can’t spit at someone without repercussions. I get that travel is stressful and often brings out the worst in people, and this was also late at night. So I assume that stress got the best of them. Even so, that doesn’t excuse spitting at someone. Ever.
While seeing someone taken off a plane isn’t cool, it does raise the question of what the best course of action is. If it’s decided that someone needs to be removed from a plane but they refuse, do you:
- Just stand there and wait until they comply?
- Physically remove them from the flight?
Below is a passenger’s full account of what happened (I just added some spacing, since this was two really long paragraphs):
Flight number RO0101 from Bucharest to Cairo.
On 16 July 2019 we took a 8:00 pm flight from Amsterdam to Cairo via Bucharest. The hell started during the transit, we had around 35-40 minutes for the transit in Bucharest (12pm). There were people from at least three flights that had to go through the security control, and only one X-ray airport scanner was available in a tiny hall. It reminded me of the horrible movies about crowded breading conditions causing stress-related behaviors in pigs.
The situation was ridiculous and funny until my 4 years old son was trapped between people that were rushing to get through the security check to catch their flights and when the security started making jokes about people who did not place their belts in special baskets (it was a mass and everyone was rushing). I did not get the comfort that the security checks were thoroughly conducted.
Luckily, the flight was delayed and we managed to get on the plane. On the plane we understood that a lady who was siting next to the emergency exit and who did not speak English or Romanian (she spoke French) did not understand or did not want to get the instructions with respect to the emergency exit rules.
At the end she was sited next to me (at the end of the aircraft). Few minutes later the security came and asked for her passport and requested her to leave the aircraft because that was the decision of the captain. Even the security was not addressing to me, the attitude was quite threatening on the side of the security. The lady obviously did not understand the request since she spoke no English or Romanian.
We asked the security to provide a translator to ensure that the lady understands what she is required to do. The security answered that they can not provide a translator and that there is no need for a translator since they speak English (it is an international language). The passengers asked why she is requested to leave the aircraft and the answer was “Because I said so”.
Later we found out that the reason for requesting the lady to leave the aircraft was not that she did not understand or did not want to follow the instructions related to the emergency exit rules but because she spitted on one of the flights attendants (security). It is not difficult to imagine what was the lady going through when the attitude was not that friendly and people were tired. Of course spitting is not an appropriate reaction.
We asked the security to find a solution to the situation to avoid any escalations and delays, but the security did not take into consideration the signs of an emerging escalation. The security was repeating that this is the captain’s order. In the meanwhile the lady who suffers of diabetes had an attack, urgently medicines had to be administrated and sugar given. Later the paramedics have twice been requested to assist the lady.
We requested to talk to the captain to find a plausible solution to the situation, but we were refused to talk to the captain (later we were explained that the rules did not allow the captain to talk to the passengers). The videos show that the situation was far from safe for the passengers and the handlings by the security were having opposite results from calming down the situation.
I remember that in that high tension situation while the security tried to pull out the lady, her husband and their child from the aircraft, the security people were surrounded by passengers and their weapons were not under the visor of the security people, luckily no one passenger snapped in that highly volatile situation to make use of the unsupervised weapons.
The security did not take account that there were a lot of children, old people and people with disabilities on the plane. One person with disabilities became unwell and assistance of the paramedics was requested again (you can see on the video the desperate look of her son when he was asking for help).
The lady’s husband was removed from the airplane in a very unpleasant condition for passengers and crying children. The lady was removed from the plane in very bad health conditions. I hope the reports will show the correct information regarding the lady’s health condition at that moment. I overheard the second paramedics team stating that her condition was very bad.
When requesting the security to act reasonable, threats were coming as I should take care that I am not escorted too from the airplane. After two hours of highly stressful situation and without water, the passengers left the airplane. I did not understand whether removing of the passengers was an indication coming from the security or the passengers decided to leave due to the unbearable conditions.
On the ground, no one asked if there are people or children that require assistance. I asked twice for water to be provided to people, the water was provide only after one hour (I cant believe it is that difficult to find bottles of water on an international airport to give some comfort to people). When I asked for the second time for water, the ground flight attendant told me that I should wait, otherwise the assistance of security will be requested to handle me. At the end, we were provided meals and water, and a flight was arranged around 5am.
Of course it is not polite to spit on a person, but no one tired to understand what was the lady’s condition: was she sick, tiered, threatened or scared. Her husband did not have any feeling of trust towards the security, he was saying that he is afraid to provide them with their passports.
By using authority and ego, did not help to calm down the situation but contrary instigated unrest on the plane which is unacceptable on an international airport of a EU country. My son asked me never to fly via Romania. I could understand his request, but it hearted me. Romania is my second home country (I am originally from Moldova) and I wish for those countries that people are treated with respect and dignity.
(Tip of the hat to Sorin)