Passengers Refuse To Stay Seated For Remains Of Airman To Be Removed From Plane

Filed Under: Delta, Videos

A Facebook user shared his disappointment with what he experienced on a Delta flight recently, and it’s starting to go viral. Ken Fitzgerald was on a Delta flight that also had the body of a fallen airman, who passed away on June 24, 2017. He claims that the crew made four announcements asking passengers to remain seated until the remains of the fallen airman were escorted off the aircraft first, which seems to be the normal protocol.

However, he notes that almost no one remained seated, and that’s despite the flight having arrived early. Here’s what he wrote on Facebook about the situation:

Pretty damn disappointed in people today! The flight crew made FOUR announcements, two on the decent, once upon taxiing and another upon our arrival at the gate, for folks to remain seated until our fallen Airman was escorted off the aircraft first. SSgt Andre Taylors family was there for his arrival breaking down in tears just outside the window along with Delta Airlines fallen hero escorts and the United States Air Force Honor Guard. EVERY INDIVIDUAL got up and followed SSgt Andre Taylors escorts off the aircraft without staying in their seats as instructed with the exception of myself, every commuting airline employee and the flight crew. Seriously people?

Here’s the video of the soldier’s remains being removed from the aircraft:

And here’s the video he took of passengers deplaning:

In the past, stories of a servicemember’s remains being taken off a flight have been touching and given many pause. For example, in 2013 JohnnyJet shared his experience being on a Delta flight with the remains of a fallen soldier, where everyone remained seated and was on the verge of tears.

So I have to wonder what happened in this situation. I’d like to think that most people can respect something like this, so I wonder if perhaps the situation wasn’t communicated as effectively as it could have been (it was apparently explained four times, but maybe not in a clear way). Or unfortunately perhaps it’s just that peer pressure always works, and when one person gets up, another person gets up, and before you know it, everyone is up.

It reminds me of this social experience from decades ago:

What do you think went wrong here?

(Tip of the hat to Popular Military)

  1. I dont think that everything needs to be sensationalized. Why is this even a post on a miles and points blog?

  2. Cheap flights brings in the air cheap people… sad and it’s almost happening everyday… They act like animals. Really tired of all those non-educated travelers. No respect for nothing, no respect for the crew instruction, no respect for themselves. Selfish and morons are the majority in the air now.

  3. Perhaps to highlight this behavior to other travelers and encourage them not to be selfish douchebags. Just a thought.

  4. @Hosea
    You mean in Hillary’s America. It’s probably some anti America broke libtard.

  5. I traveled on a SWA flight about a year ago when the plane was carrying a fallen soldier. The captain was very nice, gave tribute to the soldier. If I remember correctly, he did not ask us to stay until the casket was removed (it took over 10 minutes for that to happen). All the captain asked was to observe a 1 minute silence in honor of our fallen soldier after we stopped at the gate at the DCA airport, which of course we all did. More than half of the passengers stayed behind until the soldier’s casket was removed by the Honor Guard. It was a very touching experience for all of us who stayed behind. Here is the video I uploaded after this event.
    You will hear the captain’s words at the end of the video.

  6. I’m with @Jason. Where are interviews with people involved (i.e. the passengers, the flight crew)? Not even 10 comments in and we already have people making baseless politically and economically charged attacks. We literally know nothing.

  7. I’m suspicious of this. During the video of the soldier’s remains being removed, the background noise is pretty quiet.

    Did the removal begin AFTER everyone deplaned?

  8. I can’t watch the videos, but were passengers asked to stay seated for the duration of the removal of the remains or did the announcement just say to allow the escorts to deplane first? I’d think a lot of people wouldn’t know what the protocol or etiquette is in these sorts of situations. I mean, I take it people weren’t walking around on the tarmac and by the family while the airman’s body was removed from the plane. Most people have no idea what’s happening by the cargohold while they’re on the plane. This isn’t a common situation.

  9. What is the rationale for having people remain on the plane? Unless the family is escorting the dead soldier and are on the plane, passengers departing would not interfere with removal of the body (hence the reason baggage compartments are accessed from the right and passengers deplane to the left).

    Seems to me like Delta is trying to impose its own idiosyncratic protocol on their passengers who did not volunteer to participate.

  10. I’m as patriotic as most, and clearly more so than many who comment on this blog. But I don’t get what this is even about. If the casket had needed to be removed thru the passenger area, and people getting up had interfered with that, then yes. But it was being removed from the cargo area, and folks deplaning wouldn’t have been able to even see that happening. What is the point of them remaining seated? Clearly the people on the plane felt the same way.

    Even if they had remained seated, that wouldn’t demonstrate gratitude and reverence, just following orders. Had they gone down on the tarmac, formed a line for the casket to pass thru while they all saluted, that would have actually meant something. But all they were asked to do was stay seated while something that they couldn’t even see happening took place.

    This soldier died so that those passengers could live their lives freely, not to ensure that they would always follow orders that make no sense to them.

  11. @Ryan gets it.

    If people want to stay on the plane as some sign of respect, then allow them. If deplaning doesn’t interfere, then there is no reason to hold people against their will.

    I like the approach describe by @Daniel B. Seems like a perfect way to handle it.

  12. Attention seeking.
    Nothing in the videos suggests passengers doing anything wrong.
    I’m willing to bet the poster is lying, based on the lack of passenger sounds during the video showing the remains being removed.

  13. @Ryan. The rationale is that someone serving the United States of America by volunteering for the military passed away. Everyone can wait for that fallen soldier to be removed from the plane 1st before deplaning.

    Would you cut off a herse on the highway? Sounds like you would.

  14. Usually PAX (passengers). Deboard the plane before the fallen solider is remover from the bin of the plane. Also the Ramp crew are nowhere to be seen once the soilder has been placed on the belt loader. Who wants to see a sweaty dirty person around your sons/daughters coffin, and the ramp was a lot less cluttered with tugs and baggage carts. That’s how we did it and it made more sense. Just saying. Delta need to rethink their policy when it comes to this.

  15. Having developed a Fallen Soldier program for a major air carrier I think the flight attendant making the announcements may have errored here. Fallen Soldiers are accompanied by a military escort in dress uniform. The escort needs to be the first off the plane so he/she can get down to the ramp to attend to the removal of the Fallen Soldier from the aircraft. Most airlines try to seat the escort in First Class to make deplaning easier, but that isn’t always possible. After the escort is off the plane, normal deplaning can begin.

  16. @Jeff That is not a rationale, but rather a conclusory assertion. Why is removing a dead person (who, by definition, is not in any rush to get anywhere) prior to passengers leaving the plane necessary? The passengers did not prevent the body from being removed. They did not, it appears, hamper the ability of the family to be present as the casket was being removed. They did not detract from the somberness of the ceremony because their deplaning was not visible to the family on the tarmac. How do you know that passengers were not rushing to make a connection, or rushing to a business meeting, rushing to see a dying relative, had to go to the bathroom really badly, etc.?

    The events going on below did not involve the passengers in any material way and they did not volunteer to participate. Delta was trying to force their participation. No thank you.

  17. @Jeff but the soldier wasn’t removed from the area where passengers were. Most passengers wouldn’t even be able to see or know what was going on, and their deplaning doesn’t interfere with the family’s experience. I bet they didn’t even know people were deplaning. It would be different if this was a small plane where people deplane onto the tarmac, but if passengers are just going to a jetbridge on the opposite side of the plane, their deplaning doesn’t disturb the family. I think most people don’t know what the courtesy here is. It would be a different story if the pilot or FA had asked people to remain seated until the casket was removed, but I think most people would think they were being respectful by quietly deplaning.

  18. Quit lambasting Trump, Hillary, Obama, Bush. People now a day have no respect for anyone. It gets worse during the last 10 years. ME ME ME attitudes and behaviors. If I could I would smack those standing people on that flight.

  19. I’ve observed many situations in the past few years where so many people do not hear any of the announcements because they are watching movies/shows in their phones or tablets all the way up to parking at the gate. Perhaps this was what happened here?

  20. Your life is spent sitting in airplanes, pumping cards and staying at chain hotels. Write more posts that reflect this.

    Leave real news to the press.

  21. @JK-SFO
    Yes, this.

    Airline companies have abused their hold on the PA system by making endless non-announcements that batter one’s senses. So the first thing I do after boarding is shove in noise-cancelling headphones, and, other than for the compulsory safety briefing (when I take them out to make the FAs feel better, not because I haven’t memorised the safety briefing after hearing it thousands of times), they stay on until I approach immigration.

  22. … what Paul said.

    Seems especially true of the partner / subsidiary crews flying the regionals.

    A lot of those kids (20-something FAs) are on a power trip with that microphone and telling people what to do.

  23. Why would I ? I’ve got planes to catch, meetings to attends, people waiting for me. I doubt that Delta would rebook anybody FOC if they missed their connection because of it ? Besides, wasn’t the coffin a cargo ? What’s next ? Waiting for some VIP luggage to be loaded off ?

  24. Because it makes perfect sense to delay 100 *living* people because of one *dead* body. I can only image it was in a hurry to be buried. This isn’t patriotism, it’s nonsense.

  25. “This soldier died so that those passengers could live their lives freely”

    Well, truthfully, this hasn’t happened since WWII…. War in Afghanistan, the Middle East, Vietnam…have no bearing on American’s ‘freedom’.

  26. So shocked that this site wouldn’t understand what it means to respect a soldier.

    Sickening. Love the ad block though. Isn’t it a FCC violation to write biased blog posts and not be forthwrite about profiting from them?

    Maybe we should get a petition going…

  27. Have to agree with @Robert Hanson. And I am grateful that he was able to make the argument without being insulting or disrespectful.

  28. “I’m as patriotic as most, and clearly more so than many who comment on this blog.”


    Thank you for this, whomever wrote it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!

    Like, how the heck can someone PROVE this, least of all ASSERT it?!!!!!

    At least with penis size contests one can actually measure and prove who’s “BIGGER”!!!!!!!! 🙂

  29. Yea sorry on further review I am with Anna on this. There is NO reason why people should have to sit on the plane while this happens. They are not exiting on to the tarmac (that would be a very different scenario) and the family probably wouldn’t even be aware they were deboarding. Seems like some people just want something to be outraged by.

  30. I am on the side of people saying that the passengers are not willing participants in a ceremony that has nothing to do with them. They are not participants in it, and they are not interfering with it.

    If it’s a question of the people in the military on the ground being given some dignity and not having to see other people unconcernedly shuffling about in the plane, why not just have everyone lower their windowshades? Problem solved.

  31. Unless they’re sitting in one of a handful of window seats with a view of the cargo bin, how would they even know what’s going on with the coffin? They needed to let the escort deplane first, which they did. This is confirmed in the complaining passenger’s account where everyone “got up and followed SSgt Andre Taylors escorts off the aircraft.” It sounds like the passengers heard and interpreted the announcements correctly, while this one guy was the only one who came to the more stringent interpretation.

  32. I’m sure the flight crews can come up with a way to honor our country’s war dead without inconveniencing our busy citizens. My condolences to the family of the fallen soldier.

  33. When your story begins with “A Facebook user” as your primary source of information, I’m thinking maybe you still have *a little* fact-checking left to do before you post it?

    Sounds to me like this [very self-rightous] Facebook user is pretty confused about what happened, much less what was actually announced. There’s no story here.

    Occams Razor, folks…

  34. @Hosea your comment would be appropriate and actually funny if you’d be talking about Hillarys America. Mr.Trump has done more for the veterans & military in a while than past Presidents, just saying. Sorry but your liberal agenda doesnt really fit here.

  35. If the soldier’s family was on board, yes, I would have stayed seated. And maybe I — and a few others — would have given up seats in F.

    But in this case …. sorry, the casket is cargo. What does that have to do with me in the plane? No more and no less respect if I deplane or not. What is the rationale for having people remain on the plane for cargo to be unloaded, even if he is a fallen soldier? Passengers departing would not interfere with removal of the body (hence the reason baggage compartments are accessed from the right and passengers deplane to the left).

  36. A few years ago, I was on a delta flight carrying the remains of 2 fallen service members. A soldier and a marine. There was an escort for each on board. The captain and flight crew made an announcement and asked all passengers to remain seated to allow the military escorts to deplane. Not one passenger moved until the flight crew made an announcement thanking everyone for their cooperation and letting us know the escorts were off the plane. I think perhaps Mr. Fitzgerald misunderstood the announcements

  37. First, thanks to Ken Fitzgerald for bringing this to our attention to start with!
    Second, my condolences to the family for your loss.
    Third, the reason you keep your backside in your seat till they are done is really rather simple. It is called RESPECT.
    This young person served you and his country and paid the ultimate price–his life. And you can not give up 10 minutes of your life in respect for him??
    Speaks volumes about you.
    I would be willing to wager that not one of the responders here who had a problem with this concept have ever served in the military.

  38. Constantly venerating the sacrifice of soldiers without questioning why they had to die is a recipe for fascism.

  39. its amazing what so many of you take for granted in this country, for us that have been abroad and appreciate our lifestyle to not be able to take a moment and recognize the sacrifice this individual made for YOU is so embarrassing to the family who’s son’s commitment to preserve your way of life – selfish assholes go stick your nose back in your phones you moochers of others dedication to our country’s values! 10 minutes of tribute out of your life is too much to ask so you can run to the smoking lounge !!

  40. People fail to forget when they are on that plane they are under directive of the captain and crew whether you like it or not subject to arrest. The Captain gives a directive (order) you follow it end of story. You may not have respect for the fallen or the family but a night or two in jail may change your mind.

  41. This is typical of white trash which is most of the whites,
    colored persons have better perceptions due to sufferings at the hands of white race.

  42. @redness

    That soldier didn’t die for anything in this country. Fetishization of the military is out of control. I support soldiers by not asking for them to be sent into senseless wars and asking that they be given 2-3x the benefits they currently get when the come back. Maybe then we would think twice about throwing them away so casually.

  43. I think Americans have become more selfish and more self-centered.

    There is something called tradition. It may be a collection of stupid and senseless acts but it is the glue that holds the “tribe” together. When the Star-Spangled Banner is played at an event, we stand. What a sailer comes onboard a US Navy ship, he salutes the Colors and the Officer of the Deck. On an Army post at 5 PM when Retreat sounds, you get out of your car, face the Colors and assume Parade Rest. Then, when “To the Colors” sounds, you come to attention and salute. They are senseless, little acts but their significances go far beyond the time that they require.

    I do not like Donald Trump and I did not vote for him. Regardless of my opinions of the man, he holds the Office of the President of the United States of America. He, the person, is in a sense the embodiment of the USA. On July 14, he will be in France to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of America’s entry into World War I. Some Americans will protest in the streets of Paris because they do not like the man. In other words, they will physically walk on the memory of the 53,000 Americans who did not come home from WWI simply to “get even with Donald Trump”. I have complained to the organizers of this protest but to them the righteous of their hatred of Donald Trump outweighs the sacrifice of those who still rest at Belleau Woods Cemetery.

    So, I guess that the best description of the difference between those who wait for a serviceman’s remains to be unloaded and those who do not is “We were born on the same planet but we live in different worlds.”

  44. Quite sad. A more obnoxious group of commentators would be hard to find. Unless they were all adolescents.
    I am not a veteran but I respect those who do and have served.
    I understand the drivel about the coffin being borne from the right side, rather than from the left, deplaning side. But it’s absurd.

  45. @Ryan – I agree with you. This really shouldn’t even be brought up. We’re not in a military state, nor is this a funeral scene.

    @Jeff – your choice. There is a time and a place for that, but in the hectic cattle experience of air travel today, that is not one of them.

  46. There is a Kevin Bacon movie called “Taking Chance”. It’s the story of escorting a fallen soldier’s remains home.

    The respect shown by everyone from the military folks at Dover to the escort and explanation of his duties, to the people encountered along the way was truly inspiring. The movie is based on a book and other commentary I’ve seen says it was pretty close to the way it actually happens.

    All those reading this post and messages would do well to watch it [again]. I caught it on Netflix.

  47. “Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.”

    ― Henry Kissinger

    He would have been up and off the plane in a shot !

  48. So many ignorant commenters here.

    Let me address the reason this debate exists: the ignorance and/or blatant dishonestly of original poster, Ken Fitzgerald, along with the enablement of bloggers and lemming behavior of military fetishists.

    Ken states, “Pretty damn disappointed in people today! The flight crew made FOUR announcements, two on the decent, once upon taxiing and another upon our arrival at the gate, for folks to remain seated until our fallen Airman was escorted off the aircraft first.”

    This is either a misstatement or an intentional lie, because airlines do not ask that passengers stay seated until the “fallen Airman (is) escorted off.” Passengers are asked to remain seated until the ESCORT is able to deplane. Nothing more. And news flash — that’s exactly what happened. The escort was able to deplane first, but Ken either misinterprets the instruction, or has his own ideas about what the instruction should have been.

    This is the literal definition of fake news.

  49. It should not matter what line of work a person was involved in, so this case should not be treated any differently from any other.

    I flew on the same plane in which my husband’s body was being repatriated and it was never even suggested that passengers should wait until the coffin was removed from the plane. Frankly, I’d have been mortified at having attention drawn to my family’s distress – privacy and quiet was what we sought.

    So, should other passengers wait while a coffin is removed from an aircraft hold? In principle I’d love for the family to be asked and their preferences taken into consideration However, bereaved families must also be prepared to ‘permit’ other passengers to disembark when they have flight connections or other urgent appointments.

    And no, the deceased person’s profession should not afford them preferential treatment. All people should be shown respect equally.

  50. All it comes down to is respect. Looks like we are losing more and more of it every day as Americans.

    Gary said it best, his post was on point.

    I salute the flag every day at 1700 when “ToThe Colors” plays. It is a little inconvenience, but I also understand that the brothers I lost down range would love to be there to salute the flag with me. I understand that 2 of my buddies that lost their right arm, would love to salute the flag during “retreat”…but they can’t. So, I do it for them.

    People often ask in blogs, social media, online anywhere, “what is going on with America? What is happening to this country?”…Look at your comments, you’ll see. It’s a small little inconvenience out of your day, to pay a little respect, but even that is too much to ask for.

    No one cares anymore, no one respects anyone else, and when they don’t get respect in return, they wonder what’s wrong.

    It’s a simple gesture of respect. That’s all. Either you have it, or you don’t.

    Few comments on the comments here…

    Henry Kissinger was in the Army. Strange quote by him. He was in combat as well, volunteered for it.

    Anna K is on point.

    Comment about “freedom not being effected since WWI”…to this guy, it isn’t effected until it is. They said the same thing in Hawaii (where I’m from) prior to WWII. There is so much going on in the world that you never hear anything about it. Travel a little, see the world, start to realize that the world doesn’t revolve around the United States. Start to realize that we’re really not liked that much in some countries, just because we’re American. Start to realize that there are people out there that would do anything to “get an American kill” so they can brag about it to their friends. The world is a fun and crazy place. But you speak about this event from the comfort of your home, no worries in the world. That’s fine.

    The Captain is in charge of the aircraft until you leave the aircraft. If he asks you to remain seated, whether you like it or not, you remain seated. Once you leave the aircraft, you’re free to go about your day.

    It’s about respect people…the next time you’re disrespected in public…look at yourself, because the problem could be you. Just a little respect is all…nothing more, nothing less.

  51. WHERE was this flight? When did it actually happen? What airport from where to where? When they leave out some details I have to wonder.

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