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Ah who doesn’t love a good people thrown off an airplane story!  I didn’t write anything about the recent controversy with a passenger getting downgraded for Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (if you’ve missed it, I thought View from the Wing and Live and Let’s Fly have covered it well), but today a story caught my eye

Blanket controversy!

According to the Undefeated (and ESPN), Memphis Hustle players Marquis Teague and Trahson Burrell were flying with their team from Dallas to Sioux Falls, South Dakota on American Airlines (technically Envoy Air).

According to the 2 players, they were given some of the blankets from first class from 2 first class passengers on the players’ walk back to their coach seats. A flight attendant accused them of stealing the blankets, which set forth a disagreement that ended with the flight attendant saying he did not feel safe with the players being on the flight and insisted they were removed, which they were.

They ended up being put on a later flight to Sioux Falls in first class

Not the actual blanket! But who doesn’t love puppies in blankets? 😉

What really happened?

It’s certainly true that flight attendants have to put up with a lot of crap from people.  It’s also undeniably true that a (minority of) flight attendants have power trips where it seems like they just throw people off.  I’m also quite sure that it is common for coach passengers to “borrow” first class blankets, especially if there are empty seats in first class, and flight attendants probably have different levels of “caring” about this, depending on several factors.

As with all of these types of stories, I’m always skeptical about just believing the first (usually one sided) story that comes out.  And unsurprisingly, it looks like my skepticism has paid off.  View from the Wing shares a followup referencing a comment allegedly coming from a fellow passenger

I was on this flight. This is not what happened. The blanket issue was resolved immediately. The two passengers threatened bodily harm to the flight attendant. That’s why they were escorted off the plane.

The commenter also said that the flight attendant was also African American, so race does not appear to be an issue here.  I originally thought that the players would have had to say something pretty bad before I’d think it was correct to kick them off the plane.  But if they indeed did threaten bodily harm to the flight attendant, then I think it all was handled correctly

What we’ve learned

Well, first of all, it’s not okay to take blankets from the first class section if you’re sitting in coach (not that that is what appears to have happened here)

Secondly, you probably want to refrain from threatening flight attendants on your flight.  They have the power to kick you off a flight and they are NOT afraid to use it (as we’ve seen here and in many other incidents over the past few years)

What do you think?  Should Teague and Burrell have been kicked off the flight?

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