Insane Reader Story: Silver Airways Calls Cops On 16 Year Old For Taking Picture

Filed Under: Other Airlines

16 year old reader Matt reached out regarding an incident that occurred to him on a Silver Airways flight from Fort Myers to Orlando, which I find to be really shocking. For those of you not familiar, Silver Airways is a small regional US airline operating a fleet of turboprops, primarily in Florida and the Caribbean.

Long story short, Matt took a few pictures on the plane that he posted to Snapchat (he’s an aviation geek and private pilot), another passenger found it suspicious, and the cops were called. Here’s the picture he took:

Matt reached out to Silver Airways though hasn’t heard back yet. It’s a long letter, so first let me summarize best I can, and then I’ll share his correspondence with them:

  • Matt (16 years old) was flying with his sister (21 years old) to visit their grandmother who was having cancer surgery
  • Matt took three pictures with his phone, including one of the exterior of the plane, and one of the wing once on the plane
  • The engines started as usual, and then they stood on the tarmac for about 15 minutes; he called his mom (in Polish) to say there would be a delay, and the flight attendant walked through the aisle
  • At that point two police cars drove up to the aircraft and the door to the plane was opened; the police officers boarded the plane and came to his seat, and ordered him to get up immediately and exit the aircraft
  • The cops said “What’s going on today?” and “You know why you’re here, so tell us?”
  • The cops said they got a call saying there was a “dangerous person” onboard, and they took his ID and guided him to a K9 vehicle
  • The crew refused to let his sister exit the plane
  • After the police heard the sister was on the plane, they demanded they let her off (since he’s a minor); while she was allowed to get off the plane, they wouldn’t let her stand anywhere near him, and they were separated and given no information, since he was being treated as a “dangerous person”
  • For the next 45 minutes they searched his phone, messages, email, social media, etc.
  • After that much questioning, the crew yelled for him to get back on the plane so he doesn’t “hold up the plane even more”
  • The flight attendant shouted “you sit here now,” so Matt and his sister had to sit in the first row within sight of the flight attendant for the entire flight

Here are some further pictures he shared of the incident:

I should of course add that this is only one side of the story, so I’ll be reaching out to the airline to see if they have a statement. Matt has contacted them but hasn’t heard back.

Matt says he’s of course traumatized and embarrassed by this situation. I don’t think that’s an exaggeration at all. I recently had a situation where a Lufthansa purser (incorrectly) accused me of recording the crew and they stopped the safety demo to confront me, and I was embarrassed. I can’t imagine how humiliating it is to have the cops called, to be questioned for 45 minutes (and delay the other passengers in the process), and then to be forced back on the plane facing the flight attendant the entire time.

I can appreciate that the number one priority for an airline crew is the safety of the passengers onboard, and that can be a tough balance. I feel like it hasn’t been as bad lately, but a year or two back, there was a story just about every week of Muslims getting kicked off US airlines because other passengers thought they were suspicious. In a vast majority of those cases, the passengers were just being racist, and the only “crime” being committed was “flying while Muslim.”

In this case let’s assume that the lady who reported him was in fact scared. Unless the crew had a reason to believe he was doing something dangerous or suspicious (taking pictures on planes is not suspicious), they should have given her the option of getting off the plane, rather than doing this to him.

I hope that Silver Airways opens an investigation into what happened here, because crews can’t be allowed to have these kinds of power trips.

Here’s the full letter that Matt sent to Silver Airways:

I am writing to the Guest Relations Department in regards to a horrific and traumatizing experience aboard Silver Airways 087 Fort Myers (RSW) to Orlando (MCO) on March 7, 2018. This flight not only ranked as one of the most embarrassing moments of my life thus far, but left my sister and I feeling victimized and violated on all spectrums.

Some background information on the flight: The trip booked was a flight from Fort Myers (RSW) to Newark (EWR) with a connecting flight in Orlando (MCO), JetBlue being the airline taking me to my final destination. I had to fly to New York as soon as possible due to my Grandmothers impending cancer surgery. The only reason I flew Silver Airways was because I was referred to your airline by JetBlue. Luckily, the day before my departure, I saw that the Silver Airways flight had me connecting to what was one of only a handful of flights not cancelled from the Southeast to New York due to Winter Storm Quinn. All I wanted was for a smooth flight that could get me to my destination on time, realizing it was my only option to get to New York that entire weekend.

I will begin by summarizing the events that occurred on my flight:

I arrived at the airport on time, went through security, and sat at the gate waiting for the hour delayed departure of my aircraft. While boarding the aircraft and upon sitting in my seat, I took three pictures with my phone of the plane wing and also of the ramp when walking to the plane.

I am 16 years old and was traveling with my 21 year old sister. I am also a pilot—I truly enjoy flying, especially planes I had never flown before. It would be a lie to say that I wasn’t excited to be flying the SAAB 340 for the first time that day, so naturally I took a few pictures onboard the plane, as any tourist, business traveler, etc. can and does.

Once aboard the plane, we had normal departure announcements, the engines started, and we then stood on the tarmac for about 15 minutes. I called my mom (as did several other passengers around me) to update her on our flight status and of a possible subsequent delay. I was speaking in her native language, Polish. I noticed the flight attendant, Adrian, pacing the aisles a few times but did not think too much into it until the moment the engines stopped and the captain stated over the intercom that there would be a “maximum 5 minute delay” due to runway traffic. I couldn’t help but notice that two police cars sped up to the aircraft and the door to the plane was opened. Two police officers boarded the airplane and went to my seat. They ordered me to get up immediately and to exit the aircraft. The amount of confusion I experienced at that moment was indescribable. I am not the type of person to give up my rights as a citizen of the United States by getting up to disembark an aircraft for no reason or have my person searched with no probable cause, however, I was so fearful of getting kicked off the only flight that would allow me to make my connection. I simply had to see my Grandmother before her surgery so the risk was far too great to hold on to my rights and possibly have the plane leave without me. I got up and disembarked. All the passengers were looking at me in horror as if I was about to hurt them. I stepped off the plane and was immediately asked “What’s going on today? You know why you’re here, so tell us?” I was in so much shock and simply told them I hadn’t the slightest idea why I was pulled off the plane. I asked them what the reason was I was pulled off the airplane and they said themselves that they had little information and only got a call from the airline saying there was a “dangerous person” onboard. They took my IDs and guided me to a K9 vehicle where there was a dog barking and snarling at me. The last thing I heard when being led away from the plane was my sister, who is 21, trying to get off after me and several male voices yelling at her to sit down immediately.

After talking with her, she said she was terrified as to why her little brother was just taken off and no one was willing enough to provide an explanation. She got up to see what was wrong and to be with me, but your Flight Attendant, Adrian, shouted at her to sit down immediately. He had no interest in being polite or explaining the situation, rather forced her back to her seat. The captain, David, then came out of the cockpit shouting for her to sit down. Instead of explaining the situation or calmly directing her, together they used intimidation tactics to force her to her seat, where she could only watch me out her window standing next to three police officers and a barking K9.

When hearing the disturbance caused by your crew, Sergeant Taylor approached the flight crew to ask what was wrong. After hearing that my sister was still in the plane he immediately ordered for the crew to allow her to accompany me, a minor, as she should have in the first place.

Although my sister was initially not allowed to leave the airplane, she was eventually permitted off and was directed to stand with another officer. She was not allowed to talk to me or stand anywhere within 50 feet of my person. For almost an hour, my sister was separated from me and given no information because according to your airline, I was being treated as a “dangerous person” by the police.

For the next 45 minutes I continuously gave up my rights in fear of not getting to my final destination on time. I had officers search through my phone, messages, email, social media, etc. I was given no information and could only sit and wait as Sgt. Taylor attempted to gather information from your unprofessional crew. I stood on the hot tarmac the entire time with a cop who had no idea what was wrong himself.

Sgt. Taylor explained some information to me, however, I was still left extremely confused. I took a picture from my seat of the outside of the plane for a Snapchat to send to my friends as well as my mom—it was a photo letting her know we were on our way to Orlando. Apparently, a female passenger witnessed me taking a single photo on my phone and quietly told the Flight Attendant that I was taking pictures and plotting to do something dangerous aboard the plane. This is all Sgt. Taylor told me. He then said I was able to board the aircraft. I, of course, not only remained confused but was in even more shock. In fact, I was angry that I underwent such a traumatic and life altering experience because of a single innocent picture, despite other passengers who were also on their phones taking pictures or calling relatives. Before I could ask another question, your ground crew members began shouting for me to get onboard as to not “hold up the plane even more”. Feeling pressured and in fear of the plane departing without me, I boarded the plane. The flight attendant shouted only four words at my sister and me, “You sit here now”. We were no longer allowed to sit in the seats I specifically called ahead to sit in, but now were required to sit together in the front row. This was obviously some kind of intimidation tactic by the airline as we were inches apart from the flight attendant who did not take an eye off of us the entire hour long flight. Additionally, it was hard not to notice all the passengers looking at my sister and I shaking their heads and making crude comments that some delinquent teenagers are going to make them miss their connections.

Upon landing, I asked Adrian for his name as well as the name of Captain David. I also asked for a case number of some sort or anything that would allow me to reference the events that had occurred, however, he only shook his head saying he had no information and couldn’t give me anything.

I am at a loss of words. The effort it took to write this letter recalling the traumatic events took an enormous strain on my emotional wellbeing. Silver Airways made me feel like a criminal. I came into the airport excited to fly to see my Grandma but went out feeling discriminated, victimized, and violated as a human being.

It has been over a week since my flight and I have not received any communication from Silver Airways. No Report. No explanation. No Apology.

I am 16 years old and was using my phone to take a picture. I am 16 years old and an older women had both the audacity and ability to report me as a “dangerous person”. I am 16 years old and your crew was willing to accept her claim without hesitation and enable me to be dragged of an aircraft.

While I am still unsure about the exact details of the event since Silver Airways shows no desire to offer clarity, I am however, fully aware of the cruelty displayed by your crew. All ethical guidelines possible were ignored by your crew.

I was subjected to extreme discrimination by your crew and the passenger in question. It is clearly evident that the women in question as well as your crew overheard me speaking a foreign language to my Mom. I was immediately profiled and discriminated upon for speaking another language. Adrian continued to stare at me the entire time before the police came.

I realize that your airline must have policy regarding disturbances on aircrafts. But please, explain to me, is it ethical to take the side of a single passenger and call the police on another?

Does this mean that I can board a plane and report someone as dangerous just because I don’t like the way they look or the language they speak?

I did not cause a disturbance. I was not dangerous (as concluded by the police and finally by your crew who let my sister and I re-board). As stated, I am a 16 year old teenager who was patiently waiting to depart, as everyone else.

Adrian displayed unprofessionalism at its finest. He listened to the quiet complaint of the women and did not question me. He did not approach me to ask what I was doing. He did not tell me not to take any pictures. Adrian chose to forward the women’s comments [that I was dangerous] to the Captain.

I hold no complaint against the police and their actions. How else were they supposed to respond? How else were they supposed to act when they received a single call from your airline saying I was a “dangerous” person?

When the police approached me, images of a bloody doctor being dragged off a plane raced through my head. They said ‘never again’ yet it was all happening to me. I was discriminated and victimized by your crew.

As a result of your crew and the false accusations, I was taken off the plane. I was taken to a snarling K9. I was separated from my sister. More notably, I was stripped of my rights.

For those 45 minutes, I underwent such trauma that my sister and I were shaking throughout the remainder of the flight. I was horrified.

I don’t know why an airline would allow another passenger to cause harm to another. I don’t know why an airline would allow employees to call the police on a teenager for taking a Snapchat photo.

Silver Airways, I cannot change the languages I speak. I cannot change my age.

I do not know why I had to endure the pain your airline caused me.

I might as well have had handcuffs put on me when going back onto the plane. My seats were changed and I had to be monitored by your flight attendant the entire flight.

There was no announcement to the other passengers clarifying of the unfortunate miscommunication. I left the plane with police like a criminal and boarded the plane again like a criminal.

Not a single one of the crew members said a thing to me besides your ground crew telling me to get back on and to not hold up the plane. No one apologized. Did Silver Airways think that they could cause so much trauma and leave with no words said? Did your airline hope that I would leave, victimized, silently?

Silver Airways why do you discriminate?

Why do you criminalize teenagers?

Why do you terrorize your passengers?

  1. Hire lawyer. Delete social media. Hit the gym.

    This unfortunately won’t be a public relations nightmare (and comes in a week where there are plenty of other airlines stories to cover) but he should hit them (both the airline and the LEOs) where it hurts (aka the bottom line) and hopefully that will ensure they get better training and policies in place to deal with “situations” like these in the future.

  2. This young man needs some coaching on how to write a complaint letter.

    Like this man and Lucky, I have been stopped for taking pictures. One was at JFK Terminal 2. The security man said “no pictures” but didn’t do anything more after I stopped taking pictures from the gate area.

    In the heat of the moment, it is difficult to respond. However, maybe….

    I stepped off the plane and was immediately asked “What’s going on today? You know why you’re here, so tell us?”
    PAX: I’m going to visit my grandmother who has cancer and is going into surgery. Do you have any news about her?

    Police (hypothetical): Why are you taking pictures?
    PAX: I want to show my Grandma. Did you know that this plane is a rare, seldom seen plane? It’s no longer made. Neither are Saab cars. This plane was made in Sweden, originally as a joint venture with the obscure American company, Fairchild.

    PAX: Did you know that this plane is powered by a helicopter engine…or rather an engine originally developed for helicopters? Just turn the engine from upright to pointed forward and….zoom.

  3. If he were really a good actor….

    PAX: waahhhhhh (with tears flowing). My Grandma has cancer and is going into surgery. I’m just a high school kid. I want to call Mommy. waaahhhhhh. Why are you arresting me?

    PAX: Whoever called you called in a fake threat so that I’d miss my Grandma’s cancer surgery. waaaaaaahhhh

  4. What ever you do, be very careful if you take pictures of the historic planes in the park near the National Security Agency building. The planes are there for tourists who are visiting the museum.

    There are no signs with warnings but if you take photos of the planes, have your back face the NSA buildings. They don’t want the buildings in the photos even though there are tall bushes that cover the view of the buildings. If they think you are taking from the wrong angle……

    flashing lights will go on and you will be surrounded by tough looking security men.

    but but but but I I I I I was was just taking a photo of the the the airplane.

    Almost wet my pants because I didn’t want to be arrested.

  5. Shame on the airline!
    I get that they got a complaint but why not approach the passenger first and ask to see the pictures or for him to delete them
    And for the police to separate a minor from another family member?
    Hope this catches on with all the other muck from airlines that is going on

  6. I’m assuming the date was supposed to be March 7, 2018, not 2008 as is written in the “letter to Silver Airlines”.

    Good reason to never fly them based on their behavior.

  7. I think it would have been more appropriate to publish this story after contacting Silver for comment, and either sharing their comment or saying that they declined to comment.

    If you’re going to wade into journalism, it’s not good form to present one side and then say “I’ll be reaching out to the airline to see if they have a statement”. Do the outreach before the publication.

  8. No apology or explanation by the airline to the passenger?

    Guess all airlines just cause other people problems and hope they don’t speak up.

    Glad this kid questioned the dickens outtake them. I would like to see their response to that email!

  9. And what gave you the idea that Lucky is ‘wading into journalism’, Ben L? Why does Ben have to reach out to Silver to get their comment before posting an article on his blog? If Silver feels this is one sided and they have a problem with that, they should reach out to Lucky. I’m not sure why you have to nitpick and criticize Lucky when this is a free to read BLOG..not a newspaper or news site. Sheesh..

  10. Im surprised this never happened to you Ben. Regardless, so crazy, poor guy. What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

  11. @ schar — Hah, it has happened to me, at least in some way. When I was young I got removed from a flight by an air marshal and interrogated. I’ve also gotten some other weird comments over the years, though that was the worst.

  12. @ Ben L. — Not sure how we’re defining “journalism” in this case, but I’ve never aspired to be one. I’ve reached out to the airline a minute after publishing the post. A “journalist” would have probably done it at the same time and written that they reached out and didn’t hear back immediately. Unfortunately I fear the airline won’t say much. At best they’ll say that they’re investigating the situation. Getting statements from an airline is only very rarely useful.

  13. Could he sue over something like this? I mean at least the whole minor thing could get him somewhere, eh?

  14. The police should have questioned the woman who reported this as well. It seems odd that there would be a call of a “dangerous person” and the police only questioned him and not the person reporting it. If she did it solely because of the picture taking, she should have been kicked off the plane.

  15. Best wishes from Poland, Matt! Don’t get discouraged by this incident. You haven’t done anything wrong and all avgeeks here are definitely firmly backing you. Don’t let them spoil your love and passion 😉

    P.S. I also enjoyed my first (and so far the only) flight on Saab340 onboard Polish airline SprintAir from Radom (currently a “ghost” airport with no service at all) to Gdansk!

  16. This is horrible I hope silver airways refund his flight ad give him some other compensation and an apology

  17. The trigger here seems to be that he spoke Polish on the phone. Reminds me of that story when police tasered and killed a Polish immigrant at YVR where police thought he was speaking Russian which caused them to treat him as a dangerous person.

  18. Silver Airways is perhaps the single worst airline I have ever had the misfortune of flying. I won’t go into details about the horrors my friends and I experienced at the hands of Silver, but suffice it to say that given my own experience, I believe this very articulate young man’s story 100%.

    Silver Airways sucks. I hope this young man’s story goes viral. And I hope that Silver Airways disappears forever. #ByeFelicia

  19. In the letter Matt sent to Silver airways it says March 7, 2008 in the first paragraph as the flight date. I think this is wrong because it mentions Winter Storm Quinn and that’s going on now (unless I’m completely wrong)

  20. Only in America! Keep it up!
    I wonder how you not stop and think why it has become like this?
    Thank you America for the nr 1 low standard.

  21. I hope he sues the airline, the moronic FA and the dopey Capt, all to the point of bankruptcy. They deserve it. And the complaint old biddy should be banned for life.

  22. Usually flights with one FA. In these flights they are out of control with their attitude. They are the judge and executioner. With their minimum.wage and their unique temporary power blinds them.

  23. Silver used to be called Gulf Stream. They were a pay for training airline for new pilots where newbie pilots who’s parents had more money than brains would pay for them to get turbine flight time at Gulf Stream. So ask your self, in this day in age what pilot would work at silver as a posed to let’s say Skywest.

    The answer, someone who could not get hired anywhere else. Just like the other bottom feeder airlines like Mesa or frontier or spirit.

  24. The officer should have realized immediately the passenger was a minor. Interrogating a minor outside the presence of a parent or guardian is a violation of his legal rights, something it seems the officer belatedly realized. He should consult a lawyer.

  25. Redneck airlines, city airlines or any of the big guys, I play it safe now, I bow to them as i enter pretty please and thank you madam.

    Flying on a happy airline jet blue I wanted to change seats because of a relax animal near me, FA said it’s allowed, ok I know that we just want to move to another open seat, long story short she booted us off the flight as being a possible risk, Logan airport, my Son 11 years old at the time said jokingly, dad what do they think? You got a machine gun or something in your bag, why is this taking so long, and yes me got extre security and missed our flight.

    No common sense, robotic people work in airports and most seam to be on power trips

    Just pretend your going to the DMV, smile and say yes no answers

    And yes I should of explained to my boy you can’t say weapons in a security line but really why make us miss our flight for a dumb comment, and no they did not find my tommy gun in my duffle bag

  26. Experienced SAAB passengers fly in the rear. The front rows are kept empty because of the noise near the engines.

  27. Was he on a JetBlue ticket? They codeshare with Silver apparently, and the way he talks about his connection it makes it sound like he booked with JetBlue. He should probably also send them a copy of his letter, they’ll be far more likely to get back to him and at least refund his flight.

  28. Another case demonstrating too much powers are given to cabin crews in US airlines, and they flaunt those powers recklessly, way too often.

  29. USSA is a hardcore Police State, at war 17 plus years now non stop, support the troops, Russia is coming to get us, why do you hate freedumb?

  30. FWIW, and not saying this justifies their behavior, but aren’t some Silver Airways flights cockpitdoor-less?

  31. These Florida teenagers are all over the news for being Big Trouble. It starts with taking photos on a plane, escalates quickly to speaking a second language, then it goes into hard core advocating for gun control. What’s next? Universal human rights? Single-payer health care? It will be the end of civilization as we know it. Nip it in the bud.

  32. Hmmm my guess is, if he had black hair and even a slightly tan complexion, the geniuses knew he must be an AY-RABB, after all he was speaking “some strange ‘furn-er’ language” lol.
    So this is what we have become now, removing teens for speaking a foreign language, and removing math professors who are ITALIAN which is EUROPEAN because we cannot tell the difference between MATH EQUATIONS and ARABIC.

  33. Is it just me or do we never hear of incidents such as these outside the US? Flying in Europe and Asia is completely different…. flight attendants and passengers flying within the US it seems always feel under threat from a terrorist attack and resort to extreme measures such as calling the police or kicking people off flights. Something has to change, if it works in Europe and there are isolated incidents, then it should work in the US.

  34. @Lucky, how can one reach out to you? I’m fortunate I don’t have a story like that to share, but I’m curious how the reader contacted you in the first place.

    Thanks for clarifying!

  35. As was mentioned above, if he is 16 and therefore in law considered a juvenile , he should have been interviewed in the presence of a responsible adult ie his sister Don’t the police also need to read his Miranda rights giving him the right to remain silent ?

    Following the dog incident United was proactive in responding and releasing a statement

    Silver airways obviously has no idea how this could backfire on them although we don’t know whether they have been in contact with Matt

    If he was speaking polish it still amazes me how so many English – only speaking Americans are shocked when they hear another language, considering that a huge number of people in the US are bi or even tri-lingual. God forbid they ever visit LA or NYC

  36. TL;DR

    This incident can be summed up in one line as “Somebody thought I was suspicious for a dumb reason and the police seemed to handle it badly once they responded.”

    Furthermore, the indignation of the writer screams “white privilege”. This is stuff that persons of colour go through every single day when flying or even when going to the grocery store. Maybe this incident will open his eyes up to other stuff going on around him and be a learning experience.

  37. He is white, defiantly if he is Polish too.
    And this shouldn’t be a race issue. Kid kicked off a flight. Shouldn’t happen to white people, black, green, pink, etc.
    Airline employees need to stop going on power trips in general and of story. Hopefully this goes viral and adds more pressure on all of them

  38. Lucky,

    Just another example of the power and paranoia that airline crews wield. When I travel next, I’ll be sure to watch my p’s & q’s for fear of joining the ranks of so many others who dared to express their constitutional right and suffered mightily for it..

    Kudos to that young lad for speaking his mind even if it falls on deaf uncaring ears. The letter is extremely well written and imho . . too well written for someone so young!!. Me thinks there was a ghost writer.

    If he ever goes on to becoming a commercial pilot, perhaps his experience will temper his response should a member of his crew report there is danger lurking aboard.

    Scary stuff boys & girls.

  39. White privilege, so moral of the story is if your white you can’t complain about being a kid and pulled off a plane? But if your black you have every right to.

    This should not happen to black people. Im not denying they get stopped all the time probably too

    Whatever happened, no one has the right to do that and we should stand up for everyone, regardless of color.

    The kid was 16 and taken to a K9. That’s messed up and I am glad lucky is giving coverage.

    Stop turning this into a race issue

  40. @Lucky

    Any time you’re breaking news that paints a party in a negative light, you’re entering the world of potentially being sued for libel. Your post here could certainly be construed as defamatory by Silver Airways. I’ll note that *I personally* don’t think it is, and I don’t think they’ll sue either. Nevertheless, ask yourself this: were Silver to dispute this story and push back on you, would you feel more comfortable having afforded them an opportunity to comment before publication? I imagine most writers would.

    There’s a reason you never see the construction “I plan to reach out to the other side for comment” in a newspaper. It’s unfair to the party being painted in a negative light and it exposes the author to risk as well.

  41. This whole business of people taking pictures of equipment or people without getting permission is getting out of hand. And yes I know it is technically not illegal to take pictures in a public place. But it is rude and invasive, and reasonably can be predicted to cause offense, or worse.

    Twice in recent months I have had to stop someone taking a picture of me against my will. Once my words were enough to stop them. The second time I had to be a little firmer.

    Think, people, think.

  42. The answer is simple. Passenger Bill Of Rights. Ooops, that’s “government regulation”. Sorry, wrong country.

  43. Since 9/11 there has not been ONE documented case in which the cabin or air crew made the flight safer by throwing someone off or whatever.

    Once cockpit doors were locked and reinforced and crews trained not to open the door under hijack situations, the problem was solved.
    Cabin crews on power trips does not make us safer.

  44. Lucky, thank you very much for flagging this issue I otherwise would not have been aware of. What a well written complaint letter: clear, cogent and thorough. This 16-year old certainly writes better than the vast majority of people and I say that as someone who writes reports in the financial services industry professionally. This is exactly the sort of reason why there is a chilling effect on people to speak up even when they feel customers are being mistreated on an airline. For all those who said “I would have spoken up!” to the lady whose dog was killed on United, the fact is that the vast majority of us are terrified of something like this happening if they question or challenge a flight attendant. There is something very wrong in America where fear and a “security” culture trump everything else, especially when it comes to flying.

  45. 1. Mark, I think I love you

    2. Downside of capitalism: the people making 8 bucks an hour are sometimes only worth 8 bucks an hour

  46. @Tom: Your point is irrelevant to this case. It baffles me the extent to which people miss the point when it comes to these outrageous airline customer service issues and try to make it about whatever bugbear they’re focused on and anything else but the actual issue. Yes, it is rude to take someone’s photo without asking, even in a public place. BUT, this was not what Matt was trying to do and was not even the subject of the complaint. The bizarre complaint was that he was perceived of as dangerous. Not rude for taking photos of people. He was taking a photo of the wing of the aircraft. As you are a reader of OMAAT, you know full well that there is a wide community of airplane watchers, travel bloggers and trip report writers that do this far more extensively and without problems on a daily basis. If you really feel that taking photos of aircraft and travel experiences is such an issue, than you wouldn’t be on this blog where Lucky’s business model involves attracting readership who love looking at the copious photos he takes every day inside aircraft, outside aircraft, at airports, hotels, airport lounges etc. etc. etc.

  47. Woah this blew up. Interesting story I agree.
    Please provide updates on how the airline responds.

  48. If anyone has any doubts about whether 9-11 was a decisive blow against the US, look no further. Almost 20 years later and sheer paranoia is still the order of the day. Still cowering in the fear of Bin Laden’s henchmen.

  49. @Richard Bost: “Once cockpit doors were locked and reinforced and crews trained not to open the door under hijack situations, the problem was solved.
    Cabin crews on power trips does not make us safer.”

    I don’t know if this is the case, but some small regional turboprops don’t have a cockpit door or don’t have a reinforced one.

  50. I wonder if the complainant on the flight has travelled outside the USA, or even has a passport.
    I wonder what her preferred news channel is. “Security” is the opposite is Civility.

  51. I’m more afraid of the US government than I am any radical Islamic terrorist.

    A quick flip over at shows that the local PDs don’t have high regard for the Lee County Port Authority police. Not surprised.

  52. As a person who records review videos for youtube, every time I step on a plane, I’m always recording every single moment of the flight, from the crew, to the cabin, to the wing. Im surprised this has never happened to me at all, especially since I’m a Spanish speaker. I’ve been called out by flight attendants in the past, but thats pretty much it. I feel really bad for the events that happened that day.

  53. And this is why I coach my kids to never, ever talk to a police officer unless they think their life is in immediate danger. (And no, I’ve never been in any trouble with the law in my entire lifetime).

    Police questioning a minor and making wild accusations without that minor’s parent’s present? My kids know to respond “F off and I’m not saying a word to you without my parent here”, no matter what the situation. Even if they’ve done nothing wrong.

    In the last half century, police have gone from “peace officers” to militarized goons whose only objective is to arrest people and put them into America’s corrupt justice system. Sad.

    Hopefully this kid’s family has a great attorney.

  54. @Mike, well, you know, when someone is on a wanted list, they have to be very paranoid lol.

  55. @Sean M,
    “TL; DR” yet you proceed with assumptions and an ignorant comment despite not knowing all the details of the situation? Yeah, okay. Shows your intelligence and rationale. Really wonder how you would have reacted if it were you being forced off a flight. I’ll make my own assumptions and say your reaction or statement wouldn’t be nearly as eloquent and well handled as this young man. As others have stated, this isn’t a race-white vs colored issue, it’s an evident violation of his rights, culture discrimination (speaking a foreign language), a situation abysmally handled by both the flight crew and port authority officers.

  56. I´d like to know why taking pictures of the airplane is a security risk?

    I do hope the victim sue the airline and take them out a lot of money. I feel very sorry about FA and pilot behavior. What a shame!

    If I were him I would send the letter to JetBlue as well because this way they can think twice about renewing their contract with that airline.

  57. has April Fool’s Day come early? What a joke! Some of the stories relating to travel on US carriers never cease to amaze me.

  58. I am saddened by comments questioning the writing ability of this young man, as well as him being a private pilot. There seems to be an assumption that all teen-agers are stupid. My son was a private pilot at 17. Many other pilots at his flight school were quite a bit younger. I taught high school for 35 years and I have seen many talented writers, musicians, atheletes, thespians, etc. So do we need to add agism to all the other -isms some posters have expressed?


    “The safety and security of everyone on board our flights is our number one priority. As such, our crew members are trained to take any necessary precautionary measures to protect the safety and security of everyone on board our flights. When a passenger reported a possible security threat, they advised our crew who in turn followed the proper safety and security procedures and called law enforcement. The situation was resolved and the flight continued.”

  60. I do feel sorry for him but the letter focuses too much on him thinking they booted him off for speaking Polish. It won’t win as much sympathy.

  61. @Ines – Who was removed from a flight here? The kid was asked a few questions (which was definitely handled poorly as he was a minor) and then allowed to continue on his way with a few minutes delay. This is hardly a major civil rights issue nor does it constitute the airline “terrorising” passengers. Hyperbole much?

  62. Regarding the timeliness of Lucky pushing this information out, I have come to expect that this forum will push out information much earlier than other channels. My continued reading is predicated on this! I simply am not interested in the airline or anyone taking time to investigate before they reply, only then to give me the information. I am fully capable to give benefit to the “other side.”

    Here, there does not appear to be any probable cause. While aviation may enjoy more latitude to do searches and questioning, I think he deserved to be handled properly…maybe he was…but an explanation as to what gave concern as well as an apology is to be expected. I also think they should have apologized to the other passengers for the airlines fault detaining them, not that of the passenger in question.

  63. Another example of the ‘Land of the Free’ ….. Free to behave like fascists!
    So much discrimination from, and so much power given, to people with a uniform…any uniform to oppress others. You Americans need to wake up before you find yourselves in pre-war Germany as from everything I see when I visit you are on the way.
    Matt I hope you get a good lawyer and sue Silver Airways butt! Thanks for sharing with us so we never even contemplate buying one of their tickets.
    Unbelievable prejudice from the person who raised ‘the alarm’ he/she should be utterly ashamed of their pathetic lives.

  64. Silver Airways might try selling itself to another airline with similar “attitudes.”


  65. This is reminiscent of Nazi tactics. Confidential report of suspicious activity passed to crew. They summon police squads w dogs. Police separates minor from older sister, interrogate, search, intimidate w K9. Was K9 a German Sheppard dog? Short of runway execution we heading down the same path. SMH.

  66. There is something off here. How does a 16 year old write such a lengthy and articulate response? I don’t buy it. I haven’t heard anything like it before. Somehow, I would like to side with the airline and crew at this time. A lot of the story is missing. Why was this person deemed dangerous in the first place?

  67. @JonathanOzol

    If you’ve never heard anything like that before you should probably surround yourself amongst different teenagers.

    Just because there is the overwhelming idea that teenagers are parent dependent, unintelligent, and socially inept, doesnt mean all are.

    I believe 100% that a teen could have wrote this and it is not really questionable at all. It would be questionable if the letter used advanced scholarly like language and writing technique, but it doesnt.

    It is just a well written letter. The young man summarizes the incident in detail and then stated his grievances and questions the airline. Very standard complaint letter but just written very well–something a 16 year old should do very well.

    Maybe the average teenager can’t do so but hey there are above average teenagers, no?

    The situation is also well described so I don’t understand your confusion. In fact the teen acknowledges both sides in his letter, giving argument to the opposing party.

    He was called dangerous by the passenger. The whole point of the crazy story and why its unjustified. Some passenger called him dangerous and the crew took her side and agreed without justification.

    In the future read and doubt jump to doubting the intellect of others just because it’s not the normal thing you would expect

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