Video: Passenger Dragged Off Flight For Spitting At Crew

Filed Under: Videos

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:

Bottom line

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)

  1. Tarom did nothing wrong. Not their assigned seat, language barrier for an exit row, spitting…. this is 100% on that passenger.

  2. The moment a lady starts spitting, she is no-longer a lady. Best she is referred to factually as “woman” or “female”.

  3. Lol, good for TAROM for removing these passengers. They did not follow the clear and well-known rules (which are basically the same for all airlines worldwide) plus, if the spitting did occur, commited an offence against the crew member.
    This isn’t even in the same field as the situation with Dr.Dao.
    The story of a passenger below is ridiculous. How is security in Bucharest transit area even remotely related to this flight? What are “very bad” health conditions? If they are, indeed, that bad, then she definitely shouldn’t have occupied an emergency exit seat.

  4. It is hilarious to watch these entitled people simply taking the better seats without permission. The other week I was on a flight where I witnessed people first to board with “disabilities” and then wanting to sit in their exit row seats. (Fortunately, they were scoped out by pre-boarding team and pulled aside.)
    Yes, at times, this travel life brings out the worst in us.

  5. Besides not seating in the assigned seat, exit rows have language requirement for a reason, so they can comply in an emergency. They had the choice to move to their seats. In this case they “chose” to be dragged off the plane.

    Leaving the guns unattended that’s scary

  6. I prefer the views of those actually on the plane : clearly their sympathies are with the woman and her family, even when it meant a delay. This kind of heavy-handed response is to be expected in some of those former USSR states.
    As for the alleged spitting: evidently that allegation comes from the jack-booted security detail, ie to be treated with suspicion until confirmed ( or otherwise) by credible observers.

  7. @paolo: Romania is not a former USSR state and currently part of the European Union.

    If you dont follow regulations and refuse to comply with instructions then you are asking for it. Even if you spit in someones face or not. Not being able to follow instructions in an emergency exit row is possibly dangerous for fellow passengers!

  8. Firstly the lady taking the video is an idiot, “having a child” doesn’t make it such that you get to do whatever you want and in fact given he had a child you’d think the parents would want to set an example rather than act a fool and get dragged off the plane. She and the other guy needlessly inserted themselves into a situation they didn’t have all the facts on so they could be offended on the internet for a day. Second, they should have just tased his dumb ass and put cuffs on him while he was incapacitated and had him off the plane in a jiffy.

  9. The United story (and similar social-media-fueled incidents) has taught people – all over the world – that you can argue with flight crews and win, regardless of almost any extenuating circumstance. Fewer passengers are willing to comply with orders from crew now, because they know that they will either get the crew to capitulate, or get themselves into a physical confrontation, where there will be a pretty good chance they will be able to claim abuse from the airline that will go viral and lead to a settlement.

    I just debated this with some friends earlier this week, and their unanimous conclusion (which i disagreed with) was that it should be totally illegal for airlines to ever move people from their seats once on board, and if necessary, “every plane should fly with 5-10 empty seats so nobody ever has to be bumped”.

  10. If there is a ‘Spitting Passenger’ I don’t care how they are removed. It’s necessary to remove them and they can agree to de plane or be forcibly removed. This behaviour is not acceptable. In fact it’s disgusting and filthy. Just my opinion though.

  11. OK, let’s just say the conduct of the security team was very heavy-handed. Sadly, a typical Eastern European power trip (“because I said so”), and that’s coming from someone who grew up and lives in the region.
    That being said, if you’re asked to leave the plane, you leave the plane. That’s a done deal. You’re not going to argue your way out of it, you’re not going to win. You’re only making it harder on yourself by resisting.

  12. All this could have been avoided if they had just complied. After that is simply domino effect. Use of force, husband resisting, wife screaming and scaring her children. Then other parents butting in and yelling also scaring other children. I swear, that lady recording keeps saying “the children”. Does having a children entitles to parents like like that? Gee. If the parents complied, no one would be crying, no security would have been called. If you don’t complain, the obiviously they will call security or police to remove you by force, any person knows what is the next step. If a firm denial with explanation doesn’t cut for them, even if you are right, just comply. Just like with police, comply and if they are wrong, then file a complaint or sue for wrongdoing. Non compliance is asking to be beat up or at worst, get shot. Not worth it.

  13. Who knows what really happened. My main take away: of course a French lady doesn’t speak anything else than French. No surprise here.

  14. These videos are always ruined by some woman shrieking her head off.

    Also, the kid looks like he’s seen it all before. I bet his mother has form for sprogging at authority figures.

  15. OK the story is not like that please check your source. The lady sat on her correct seat, no aggressive behavior was presented by the passengers. Basically the remaining passengers stood by the couple and are willing to testify that the couple did not do anything. The passenger will go to court and let’s see what will happen.

  16. People don’t like to see violence in connection with removal from an aircraft?

    Simple. The onus was fully on the passengers. Do as they were told and there would have been no violence.

    They don’t own the airplane and are obligated to leave when the owner or their representatives order them to do so. The reason why doesn’t matter.

    When people refuse to do what they are legally obligated to do, violence can result. That’s life. Deal with it.

  17. A most unfortunate and ugly, chaotic, not well-managed, very risky, altercation between airline employees and a family of passengers who were completely uncooperative, became assaultive, and apparently there was a language barrier. With that, the only silver lining, perhaps, is it will be a great training tape for all airline employees going forward to review and discuss what not to do and what they could’ve done differently.
    What is ironic is ultimately they had all the passengers deboard, which is what they should’ve done at the beginning because they wouldn’t have had to contend with a mob scene with many screaming loud and long, causing their children to cry and become very upset, understandably. Had a whole plane Been deboarded, it would’ve been a lot easier to get the man and his wife off the plane. When you get this kind of escalation just take everybody off the plane then you can control the situation better. A mob mentality developed with people practically rising up against Airlines personnel and security which is really stupid.
    Everybody made it a lot worse than it had to be, including (especially) the passengers. This is not a participation sport. You see all of these parents with babies screaming that their children are so upset but they’re screaming! The parents did nothing to calm their children down; the main thing would’ve been to go to a far side of the airplane and try to calm your child down. instead they’re almost ensuring that their child is going to cry and scream because they’re screaming
    Passengers: if Airlines staff is confronting a difficult passenger, the best thing you can do is stay in your seat and mind your own business 99% of the time. Usually the person should be off the plane because they’re drunk or belligerent or handsy or smell or any other kind of thing that would present a health/safety problem for you and me were we to be on that same plane fighting for this person‘s rights. Let them do their job. let them make the call. if it’s wrong, you have a bunch of witnesses there for a nice lawsuit.
    And then there is the “journalist.“ With the camera. She has “every right“ to be filming. But I don’t think she was just filming. I think she was participating. It’s seem like that long blood curdling scream was coming from her. then someone threw some object (garbage?) towards the center of the action that seemed to come from her direction. so I don’t have great sympathy for her as an unbiased “I’m just filming” videographer. she was very much involved protesting and escalating and very much inflaming it. She should’ve been taken off the plane as far as I’m concerned.
    If they had caught it early on and just instructed all passengers to Deboard, I think people would’ve done it , and then the only people onboard is that family, and that would be pretty easy to deal with at that point with not all these lookee loos who want to film everything. you don’t have to film if you have 20 witnesses seeing everything. It just raises the tension.
    I think it was wise not to try to leave right away. Everybody needed to calm down.

  18. On the other hand Tarom seats look quite comfortable in economy. Nice plush, thick padding with amazing headrests. I wonder what their J looks like?

  19. Stop making excuses. Stop bleating idiotic platitudes like “travel brings out the worst in us all.”

    These people are assholes. Punch them out, drag them off the plane, toss them in jail and leave them there for a few days to think about it, and ban them from flying forever on any airline, period. Quit screwing around, and get on with the fecking flight. Stop encouraging the world population to be complete morons. Sheesh.

  20. Those were Egyptians passengers and since I understand the language, here are some clarifications : they were angry because the culprit group was already seated in their designated seats after they were moved from the exit seats. In their view, the problem was solved but escalated by the security team. The lady was Moroccan and did not speak English accompanied by her Egyptian husband and son and there was a language barrier for sure. The passengers were also outraged that due to the screaming and the violence a couple of passengers passed out and no medical attention was given despite several requests. One was the mother of the young man seen addressing security from the front of the plane, informing them several times that he needed a doctor for his mother who suffers from cardiac disease and the other was a child. That the lady spat on the flight attendant is hard to believe and was a rumor non collaborated by anyone.
    So both the airlines and the passengers who resisted change of seats are in the wrong. However, it is quite difficult to watch.

  21. It doesn’t inspire confidence in their security that they threatened the woman who wrote that account with security action for asking for water though.

  22. This is 100 percent the passengers fault. I had to stop watching at the 45 second mark. The lady scream he has a child annoyed me. That should mean that if they had a child, whom by the way is in a critical learning stage at this point, they should have followed the orders laid by the law. They’re teaching this child rude behavior, and to disobey rules and laws. Their child should be taken away for negligence. Why are they resisting when they were clearly in the wrong. Speak English or the local language as is standard around the world for emergency seating. I applaud the airline. This is nothing like the United incident. The airline should give them a bill, like Jet2 gave a bill to that rude lady.

  23. Instead of delaying the flight why not continue on without confrontation, then get them arrested when they disembark.

  24. Yeah, by the time the border police arrived the passengers had already removed themselves from the exit row seats and were seated in their original seats at the back of the aircraft. So language barrier or not, they knew very well that they didn’t belong there and had to move, which they did. We don’t know whether the woman spat on the flight attendant or not but I find it _very_ unlikely that the captain would order someone off the plane simply for raising their voices during an argument.

    The airline staff did nothing wrong, the border police were maybe too heavy-handed but they should have the right to remove someone from the aircraft. You can’t just stand there for hours or days just waiting for someone to get the point that they won’t be flying anywhere anytime soon.

    If you’ve been ordered out for any reason, even in error, you remove yourself from the aircraft and sort it out later. Go ahead and sue the airline, but get your ass off the aircraft first.

  25. oh, and just in case it wasn’t clear, the staff in white shirts wrestling with the passengers in the second video are border police, since their sidearm badges (“Politia de frontiera”) are clearly visible.

  26. As soon as the other passengers intervened everyone should have been immediately offloaded.

    The camera person violated international privacy laws and should be prosecuted.

    If incidents like this result in offloading the passengers then perhaps in the future they will stop interfering and possibly will assist in deplaning the original offenders without further trauma.

    Let’s start being civil and this crap will stop!

  27. Frankly, it I was the Captain, I would have told most of the idiots yelling and screaming (yes including the idiot that thinks his big bad ass aggressive behavior will help get his mom medical attention) to get off the plane as well. Refund their money. The remainder of the flight once they finally left must have been horrible listening to those in support of the spitting family babble about how they were wronged. Yes, the Captain and Crew do “get to act as god” on board. Listen and do as requested. It will keep you on board.

  28. Wow. Yeah, totally agree with the majority of these comments. Thank God most people aren’t agreeing with the passengers that were removed, which is usually the case in this ‘human rights’ obsessed world. That stupid lady filming should have been removed herself. She was just escalating the situation (along with the hysterical black lady afterwards). In fact, most of the adult passengers behaved deplorably. They were not only hindering the staff from doing their jobs, but upsetting everyone else too (making the environment even more unbearable). They wouldn’t have had to worry about the ‘safety’ of the man being forcibly removed (and the violation of his freedom, lol) if he had just cooperated in the first place. Instead they were supporting and encouraging his behaviour! As other posters have already suggested, questions can be asked later and, if the actions of the staff were in fact unfair, a fair outcome could then be negotiated. Oh, and that man informing staff about his mother and ‘requesting’ assistance (as it was put by the poster who claims to be Egyptian himself)… no way. His attitude was completely belligerent. What was he expecting? To coerce and threaten the staff into doing his bidding? Sounds like typical (rich) Arab arrogance to me (apologies to Arabs who don’t behave like this but I witness it all the time when traveling through the Middle East, and Morocco). In fact, the whole lot of them should have been fined for international travel violations (i.e. for endangering everyone’s safety on an aircraft; which also happens to be a confined space which can’t be easily exited). Bet they would be fun to be with in a real emergency (probably they’d be the types to try and get all their stuff out of the overhead lockers in an emergency landing where there’s a goid chance of the plane exploding into flames, thereby preventing others from exiting, because ‘that’s their right). God help the human race if these specimens are an accurate cross-section of our intelligence and future potential…

  29. It’s easy for all of you to say the passengers were 100% in the wrong and that the people screaming and panicking are morons, and that the border officers did no wrong, but just imagine yourself on that plane, don’t try and tell me you would’ve been completely calm and wouldn’t have been at least slightly disturbed by the way the man was dragged off the plane. While I agree the passengers were wrong in refusing to deplane when they were legally obligated to do so, we as people watching from a computer screen shouldn’t be so quick to judge the behavior of the other passengers, since seeing all that unfold in front of you would’ve been a very different experience than seeing it in video form. It’s hard not to panic or be disturbed when someone’s dragged so brutally and forcibly off a plane, right in front of you, regardless of whether or not they are in the wrong. I’m not saying the passengers didn’t deserve to be taken off the plane, or that they shouldn’t have been, but simply that empathy gets us all a lot farther in life.

  30. Screw empathy. These idiots were clearly wrong, they were acting like entitled a-holes, and were asking for a good smack-down. So many idiots in the world now think they can and will get away with any outrageous behavior. It’s time to start cracking some heads and make people learn there are consequences.

    Drag ’em off the plane, without injuring them if you can, but if it has to be bloody, then so be it, their choice, their consequences. Toss them in jail and leave them there for a few days to learn lessons their mother should have taught them long ago. Zero sympathy.

  31. First of all, this is not what happened and that is clearly stated in the video. So what actually happened is as follows:
    1) the lady was seated in her assigned seat beside the exit. She doesn’t speak English or Romanian so she was asked to change seats and she also had a hand bag that they thought it was a carry on so they asked her to put it in the storing area. She didn’t want to as it had all the passports and money.
    2) she changed her seat upon their request and they asked for her boarding pass.
    3) they took her boarding pass and then came back for the passport.
    4) they refused to give them the passports cause they wanted to keep it.
    That’s when the security came to take them.
    5)the lady in the video was telling them that the child was there cause the child was terrified and worried about his dad.
    6)the mother is diabetic and lost consciousness.
    7) the father was taken away and didn’t know where the mother was.
    8) after 2 hours, they took him to the hospital to see his wife. She was still unconscious.
    9) the flight passengers were saying that if they took the man that they will not board the flight as they were all on his behalf.

    If the lady spitted as this article says, passengers wouldn’t consider doing this. They would have stood on the crew’s side.

  32. @andy-well placed empathy yes. But my empathy is not all embracing. When someone acts like this family being removed, I have zero empathy.

    I think this might have gone faster if security would have grabbed the kid first and told the parents to follow.

  33. So what should always happen in these cases to expedite, is for the pilot to inform passengers of a mechanical issue and deplane everyone. Then if you have a problem passenger, just do not admit them back on the plane, the drama is kept in the airport and boarding passengers will not wait around to see why someone is not getting onto the boarding tunnel… simple

  34. In this airplane as in a vessel rules are simple, you comply or go home, safety is most important and inappropriate behaviour is not accepted.
    And to be honest if you are used to use wagon transportation go use a wagon not a plane.

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