Earlier this week, a viral video showed an American Airlines passenger being hustled off of a flight while passengers booed the flight crew. Now, the passenger at the center of that video is giving her side of the story.
As the Washington Post reports, 27-year-old Tiana Fough was boarding US Airways/American Airlines Flight 408 from Phoenix to Portland on Sunday, October 11. Fough, a stay-at-home mom with two toddlers, had been vacationing in Tucson with friends over the weekend and was on her way home. As with almost any flight, not everyone on board — including, apparently, some members of the flight crew — was in a great mood. Airline travel these days has a way of doing that to passengers and crew.
What happened next isn’t entirely clear, but as Fough tells it, an American Airlines crew member began shouting at her, for no apparent reason.
“Stay right there! I asked you three times.”
Fough insists that, in the noise of passengers boarding the flight, and while she was concentrating on finding her seat, stowing her belongings, and chatting with fellow passengers, she had no idea a crew member had even been talking to her.
“I start to walk on like everybody else and I’m chatting with the lady in front of me. As her and kind of four other people in front of me make their seats, there [was] one flight attendant and me … we are probably about 5 seats away from each other and he just starts yelling at me … and at that point I was just like ‘oh my gosh, what’s going on?’ and I just looked over at this guy and the flight attendant says to me, ‘I asked you three times to stay right there’ and I looked over at the guy and he goes, ‘well obviously you didn’t hear him’… There was people in front of me I had no visual sight of the man until everybody had sat down.”
At that point, for reasons that aren’t fully clear, as of this post, the American Airlines flight crew made the decision to remove the passenger from the flight. In the video below, you can hear the sobbing woman insisting she didn’t do anything wrong as she’s hustled off the aircraft. Other passengers can be heard booing and catcalling the flight crew, saying such things as “Shame on American Airlines!”
To be fair, disobeying a flight crew member’s lawful commands is a criminal offense, according to Criminal Defense Lawyer, punishable by removal from the flight on up to incarceration. Although whether or not Fough disobeyed the American Airlines crew member, or simply didn’t hear him or her, as she claims, will likely be up to a court to decide (she’s “seeking legal counsel,” according to Fox Business).
American Airlines passenger kicked off flight seeks legal counsel – check out the segment with Tiana Fough here: | http://t.co/pJmALhad98
— Mornings with Maria (@MorningsMaria) October 15, 2015
Fough was able to get back home to Oregon on a later flight. For her trouble, American Airlines offered her a $250 voucher for a later flight. She declined, stating she’s done with American Airlines forever. She also declined an offer of $250 cash from the airline.
“They did offer me a $250 voucher … it’s kind of like what are my rights here, you know? Can anyone just get kicked off a plane for doing nothing wrong? And that’s a scary thought.”
An American Airlines representative, in an email to the Washington Post, said the airline had contacted the passenger and apologized.
[Image courtesy of: Getty Images / Joe Raedle]