Footage has emerged showing the moment that Kima Hamilton, a passenger on a Delta Air Lines flight from Atlanta to Milwaukee, was forced to get off the plane because he used the bathroom during a 30-minute tarmac delay after he felt an urgent need to relieve himself.
After Hamilton, 39, used the bathroom, he was approached by Delta Air Lines officials and told to get off the plane because he had violated flight rules. When he refused to get off the plane, the flight crew returned the plane to its gate and all passengers were asked to get off. They were then allowed to get on board again, except for Hamilton, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
Hamilton, a DJ, was booked to fly on Delta Air Lines Flight 2035 from Atlanta to Milwaukee on Tuesday, April 18. But after he had boarded the flight, the plane was delayed on the tarmac for more than 30 minutes. During the delay, Hamilton felt a sudden urgent need to use the bathroom, but he struggled to hold it while the plane was delayed on the tarmac.
As the delay continued, the need to use the bathroom grew stronger, and Hamilton realized that he might be unable to hold it much longer. So he got up from his seat and approached a flight attendant at the back of the plane and asked for permission to relieve himself quickly while the plane waited to take off.
The attendant told him he would have to return to his seat because the plane would “lose its place in line” if he did not. Hamilton returned to his seat, but the plane continued to be held up on the tarmac while Hamilton’s need to use the bathroom intensified.
Finally, fearing that he might pee on his seat, Hamilton got up and used the bathroom without asking the flight attendant. He returned to his seat within a minute while the plane was still waiting to take off.
But as Hamilton returned to his seat and buckled his seat belt, an announcement came that the plane would have to return to the gate because a passenger had to be removed.
Another passenger who sat near Hamilton with her husband and daughter filmed the moment that an airline official came up to Hamilton and asked him to leave the plane.
“Can you help me understand why… I haven’t done anything,” Hamilton said to the official who approached him.
“We’ll discuss this outside, not here. Come with me please. We’re not going to discuss this here,” the official answered.
“I had an emergency and needed to pee, I tried to hold it the first time and I absolutely couldn’t, and now I’m being kicked off the plane? I haven’t done anything hostile,” Hamilton continued.
When Hamilton refused to comply with the instruction to leave the plane, the official left and another arrived a few minutes later. The official spoke softly, trying to persuade Hamilton to leave the plane.
“I have done nothing,” Hamilton continued to argue, saying he left his seat briefly because he needed to use the bathroom urgently.
“Any time we are about to take off – for your safety, and for everyone’s safety – we need you seated, that’s the bottom line,” the official insisted. “I understand you had an emergency and I’m glad you were able to take care of that, however, there’s always protocol.”
“This is not one of those scenarios where we are going to force you off the plane or anything,” the official continued, “but because we are inconveniencing everyone right now, that’s why someone came to ask you to leave, and I need you to follow me up to the front desk, that’s all.”
“You’re kicking me off the plane, I need you to be direct with that language, because this whole ‘let’s get off and talk’ thing isn’t true,” Hamilton protested.
“We’re not kicking you off, we need to remove you because we need to discuss this further,” the official replied. “I’m just trying to help you man, so if you can follow me, get your things and whatever, then we can get you rebooked.”
The plane eventually returned to the gate and all passengers were asked to leave. But they were allowed to board the plane again, without Hamilton.
“It was already understood and decided that I was a problem and I was getting kicked off the plane,” Hamilton told Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“When I exited there were FBI agents waiting for me with Delta personnel.”
Hamilton told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that in his opinion, the officials blew the matter out of proportion. He only experienced an urgent need to use the bathroom while the jet was delayed on the tarmac.
Fellow passenger Krista Rosolino, a lawyer who filmed Hamilton’s encounter with airline officials, agreed with Hamilton that the airline officials overreacted.
But Delta Air Lines explained to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that federal law requires that passengers comply with crew instructions for security reasons.
“Our flight crews are extensively trained to ensure the safety and security of all customers,” a statement by the airline said. “It is imperative that passengers comply with crew instructions during all phases of flight, especially at the critical points of takeoff and landing.”
Hamilton said he might have been arrested by the FBI agents for causing a disturbance if he had not remained calm during questioning on the plane and later at the terminal.
He said that Delta refunded part of his ticket and left him to find his way home. He later bought a ticket on Southwest Airlines at a cost three times the refund and arrived home very late that night.
Rosolino said she learned later that a passenger on another Delta flight also needed to use the bathroom while the plane waited to take off, but the crew allowed the passenger to use the bathroom.
Hamilton concluded that the airline officials apparently felt he was a potential security risk as a six-foot-three-inch black man with dreadlocks.
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