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Yesterday news came out about Youtuber Adam Saleh, someone who has marketed himself as a “professional idiot”.  He was escorted off of Delta Flight 1 traveling from London to New York (JFK).  Saleh claimed that he was kicked off the flight for “speaking Arabic”, and posted a video of him leaving the plane on Twitter

I also later learned that only a week ago, Saleh posted a video claiming to have smuggled himself in a checked bag on a TigerAir flight.  While I was already inclined to wait to hear both sides of the story, his background as somewhat of a provocateur made me even more cautious.

Delta’s response

Delta was fairly proactive – first publishing a brief statement

Two customers were removed from this flight and later rebooked after a disturbance in the cabin resulted in more than 20 customers expressing their discomfort. We’re conducting a full review to understand what transpired. We are taking allegations of discrimination very seriously; our culture requires treating others with respect.

Then a little later, posting a followup

We take all allegations of discrimination seriously and we are gathering all of the facts before jumping to any conclusion. Our culture requires treating everyone with respect. Furthermore, Delta people are trained to and frequently handle conflicts between passengers.

Maintaining a safe, comfortable and orderly onboard environment is paramount for every flight and requires the cooperation of all of our customers in conjunction with adherence to directions from our crew members. This is a Delta policy and is required by U.S. regulations as well as others governing aviation worldwide.

Two customers were removed from Delta Flight 1 departing London-Heathrow today after a disturbance in the cabin resulted in more than 20 customers expressing their discomfort.

We have spoken with the customers who were removed; they were rebooked on another flight. Plans are in place to immediately speak with our crew and other passengers when the flight lands this afternoon. We will provide an update once we have more information

Upon landing the crew was debriefed and multiple passenger statements collected. Based on the information collected to date, it appears the customers who were removed sought to disrupt the cabin with provocative behavior, including shouting. This type of conduct is not welcome on any Delta flight. While one, according to media reports, is a known prankster who was video recorded and encouraged by his traveling companion, what is paramount to Delta is the safety and comfort of our passengers and employees. It is clear these individuals sought to violate that priority.

More of the Adam Saleh / Delta story is coming out

View from the Wing posted a report from a member on Flyertalk

Waiting for the boarding door to close and then there’s an altercation on my flight as a passenger is suddenly yelling he’s being discriminated against…

A guy making loud claims of discrimination…and that a white guy cursed him out for speaking Arabic.

There was no loud altercation before the guy started yelling into his video camera. And there’s always two sides to every story.

Red Coat said it had nothing to do with speaking another language…two young guys trying to get attention.

The New York Times also has a well-written and comprehensive report of the subject, that includes reports from passengers that a woman in front of Saleh were “interrupted by a woman in front of them, who asked them to speak English because they were making her uncomfortable.”

The Washington Post also has reports of a man seated in the row ahead of them who “heard one of them shouting something while the other filmed people’s reactions” as well as another passenger defending Saleh saying “I am upset that that’s happening, really upset – Is there freedom of speech? They can speak in whatever language they want to on the plane.”

Again, it will take time for the true story to come out of what happened.  While there are certainly instances where flight attendants abuse their power, I for one would like to hear a little more details before rushing to a conclusion

What’s your take on this whole situation?  Are you going to #boycottdelta?

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