American Airlines Passenger Dragged Off Flight for Refusing to Change Seats

An American Airlines passenger on board a flight from Dallas Fort Worth to Los Angeles on Monday wound up “forcibly restrained and dragged off..while cuffed to a wheelchair” after he refused to move to a different seat.

He didn’t like the seat in row 36 so he assigned himself a window seat at the front of the cabin. The passenger actually assigned to that seat showed up, but the man wouldn’t move.

In video of the incident, the seat squatter declares, “Don’t force me, don’t violate my freedom. That’s my seat. You don’t like it? Switch it.” He said that he wouldn’t give up the seat even if police showed up, a proposition that would shortly be tested and falsified.

After using NSFW language in defense of the seat that he had planted his personal flag in, a flight attendant tells him “You can’t talk to anyone like that, you’re getting kicked off of this flight.” And indeed he was removed from the aircraft — something which took four police officers strapping him onto a wheelchair to take him off.

Everyone was taken off the aircraft, and the flight missed D0 by 45 minutes. According to the airline, “American contacted law enforcement due to a disruptive passenger who caused a disturbance during the boarding process.” The man was not arrested.

(HT: Paul H.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This person is unreasonable, combative and cannot follow instructions that are reasonable. He cannot fly today. What if he decides that the pilots seat should be his seat? AA was right to forcibly remove him. If this were a bank or post office or police station there would be no question to remove him. Same goes for an airplane.

  2. In this case he got what he deserved. He was not in his assigned seat, and instead tried to upgrade himself at the expense of another passenger’s rights. He should have been arrested.

  3. Doug: NSFW = Not Safe For Work *to listen to)
    D0. Departure on time. Departure Zero. American uses that as a key metric on running a good operation. Other airlines use On Time Arrival.

  4. Why aren’t these people charged, especially when they threaten passengers and the flight attendants? If I was a passenger and threatened by this type of person I’d insist that charges be filed. And why doesn’t the flight attendants and pilots unions insist on charges?

  5. @Jw was questioning the same thing. He should at least be put on the no fly list…

  6. Must have been disappointed with Mueller’s disastrous Congressional hearing and took it out on an airline. Sad!

  7. The headline for this article isn’t accurate. It should be something more along the lines of “American Airlines Passenger Forcibly Removed From Flight After Refusing to Sit in Assigned Seat.” The given headline implies some sort of injustice imposed upon the removed passenger, while in actuality the removed passenger was the cause of the disruption.

  8. Looks like Dale from King of the Hill … How in the heck did he not get arrested for kicking at police officers?

  9. You headline is is very misleading. He wasn’t dragged off the flight for refusing to change seats. He was removed for refusing to sit in his assigned seat and becoming disruptive.

  10. If AA refused to accommodate him on another flight then he just paid his ‘fine’ for the disruption.

  11. Hopefully the proper statement is that “he has not been arrested yet”. Hopefully by now they have him in the can (he should at least be in there for the duration of the flight, in case he left something bad on the plane). And nobody addressed the idea that the pilot and flight attendant unions should be insisting that charges be filed.

    And please stop all this trump/racial/white BS crap. It has nothing to do with this, and anybody who thinks that that is what went on in that plane is nuts.

  12. @jw. They cannot control themselves. Doctors have been reporting Trump Derangement associate Brain Damage for a while now. Brain degradation is sad and leads to early Zombie syndrome. If they convert to full zombie, then the only solution is to find a hot Japanese woman in a bikini with a Katana to slice them into pieces. I have seen in multiple movies.

  13. I hope he was banned for life from the airline. And I wish he had been arrested for disorderly conduct and for trespassing (he had no claim to that seat). If his only penalty was to miss his flight, that is way too lenient in my view.

  14. Pretty misleading headline, Gary. This guy is clearly a wackjob and AA was right to remove him. I’m impressed they were able to remove this guy, and then apparently deplane and re-board everyone else and take off only 45 minutes late.

  15. Why wasn’t he arrested ?
    Why isn’t he being forced to pay compensation to every passenger for the delay he caused ?
    Why isn’t he bei g forced to pay the airline for any costs they incurred ?

  16. @Amapas: More like the faulty logic of an AAlexandria Ocasio-Maduro.

    “Create jobs->Ban Amazon HQ”

  17. @ Amapas

    WRONG. This was very clearly an entitled left-wing moron such as yourself.

  18. What does it take to be arrested in the USA?

    Oh, wait, he wasn’t of color. That’s why.

  19. @Jake

    WRONG. Your racist comments are not wanted. And if you had actually listen to everything he said he very clearly wasn’t always speaking English.

  20. @Stu umm he isn’t even speaking english at one point.Nice try with the race card nonsense.

  21. Why not arrested? Maybe he was off his meds. Maybe he was on his meds. Maybe he didn’t understand the rules. Maybe his plane was changed and his original seat was downgraded and he corrected the problem. Maybe he was in basic economy and wanted to upgrade. Maybe he didnt like the person next to him. Maybe the person next to him didnt like him.
    Oh well, who knows. It looks like AA has updated their irate customer policy and because prior incidents were typically handled poorly, they now under react when pushed.
    Here is what AA could have done for the individual with the correct ticket: free round trip for him and one other person, and an upgrade on the next flight out or full refund for this ticket and take the empty seat. Both subject to a nondisclosure agreement with a hefty penalty if violated.
    The rationale is a little outside the box, but probably worth it for D0 and one less non-newsworthy story. And if they already decided not to arrest, what did they accomplish?

  22. Hopefully someone reminded him that Hillary lost nearly 3 years ago, and so he should have gotten over it by now and should stop taking out his anger in public, especially on airplanes.

  23. @ pretty much all commenters. It appears that many of you have led a very sheltered life and perhaps your life experiences have come from the 6 o’clock news. If you ever had a family member or friend that has issues such as this man you would realize that’s it’s not racial or political, it’s mental and/drugs and it’s an illness. To be under the illusion that those with serious mental issues cannot and do not purchase an airline ticket is at best naive. The “trigger” of spending 3 hours in a metal tube with 200 others with God knows what ailments, at 35,000 feet going 550 mph, ain’t what it once was.

  24. @Kevin- Blogging 101 is to use clickbait-y titles that imply an outsized response to an ordinary event. Then once you click on it you get the actual details and realize how intentionally misleading the title was intended to be.

  25. The primary reason not to arrest this fellow is that immediate detention might well not be necessary to accomplish the short term public safety objectives. He was removed from the aircraft, and likely from the airport as well which would seem to alleviate the immediate concerns. The law enforcement officers involved undoubtedly have filed reports and evidence, and a decision will be made on whether filing charges and issuing a warrant for him to appear in court are appropriate under the circumstances.

    Who knows, maybe he thought he was on a Southwest flight……..

  26. If I am not mistaken, those front row bulkhead seats incur an extra charge on AA. I think they are MCE seats. So if he didn’t pay he could have gotten a misdemeanor theft of service rap.

  27. He said “That’s my seat.” I bet what happened to him is the SAME thing they just did to me.

    Ironically, on July 26th (the same day this happened) I booked a flight on American Airlines from SNA to DFW. I had aisle seats confirmed for the flight there and the flight back (I had an email with the seat assignments and (CONFIRMED) next to them).

    I went to check in today and they said that I didn’t have assigned seats. I work for a company with over 600,000 people and they chose AA as a “preferred” vendor and we are supposed to get premium seat assignments free as part of the agreement.

    I called our corporate travel office and they said they didn’t know why it happened but my seats were now showing not assigned. Then I called American and they told me that at 6:xx pm (I forget the exact minutes) their records showed my seats as assigned in the aisle seats I chose. Then they told me that at 10:xx pm the same day that my corporate travel people unassigned my seats. I flat out told the American Airlines customer service person I didn’t believe her. I then called back my corporate travel and they checked their records again and said AA had pulled the seat assignments. Then they called AA on my behalf and AA turned around and blamed ME for unassigning the seats, saying I must not have completed the seat assignment request. Meanwhile I had received an email on 7/26 saying that my aisle seats were confirmed.

    I would be willing to bet that they saw I had a premium seat without paying for it (ignoring their obligations to my employer for having received “preferred airline” status) and sold it to someone else who was willing to pay a seat premium of $100 or whatever for the seat.

    Needless to say I will avoid flying with them again and I’m providing this same feedback to the people at the company who deal with choosing preferred airline vendors.

    We need to start another anti-trust lawsuit against these extortive seat assignment premiums. We also need Elon Musk to hurry up and finish his hyperloop so the airlines will have some real competition and we will have a viable alternative to air travel.

  28. No, I’m not. I just really want some legitimate alternative to flying. The rest of the developed world gets to have high speed trains and we can’t have nice things in the US.

    Also, I don’t want anyone to think I’m excusing this guy’s behavior. I’m just really sick of the airlines jerking us around and gouging us every way they can think of..

  29. “The man was not arrested.” Tells you everything you need to know.

    And the video shows him saying “that’s my seat!” Theman is not too well educated nor outspoken, so it’s easy to laugh at him, but it clearly was indeed his seat, and he had a right to defend himself to stay in it. If it wasn’t his seat, he definitely would have been arrested, because arresting people makes a lot of money for the police.

    It can only be concluded that Dave above is correct. The man was assigned a preferred seat without having paid the added premium; the airline’s computer system is designed to resell these seats, and they resold his seat after having assigned it to him, and without his consent nor even his knowledge.

    The man was ambushed, and we should all be appalled, and stand up and say this is wrong, and demand justice for him. Freedom of innocents to not be assaulted is not an entitlement, It is a right. And freedom from government tyranny is the crowning pinnacle of humanity and western culture’s greatest gift to our children throughout the centuries. Cherish it, because the commenters are unaware accomplishes to the change that has been foisted upon us without our consent. Articles like these manufacture consent from the unaware. Here’s how:

    The police did not arrest the innocent man because he was in the right. Had they arrested him, he would have a claim not only against the airline, but against the police as well. By not arresting him, the police can claim deniability by saying the airline made us do it, and we are required to follow that order without question. is this way, the corporate system is in fact set up with checks to deny rights and protect tyranny – the exact opposite of what check and balances are supposed to be for.

    The man had a right to defend his seat, and yes, even to use NSFW language (swear words) as his rights were being trampled. Swear words exist for a reason, and this scenario is the exact time and purpose for them.

    What’s scary is how so many people have been duped by the “Brutus is an honorable man” rhetoric by which this article pulls the switcheroo, leading people to accept corporate tyranny and the stripping of liberties. There’s even a commenter above named Amapas who goes so far as to post “This is classic Conservative entitlement. “Don’t violate my freedom.” the bystander shown filming with his iPhone at the end of the video is shaking his head, thus making a judgement against an innocent man who is literally being assaulted by corporate tyranny and the police.

    As many have pointed out, the aritcle’s title is fictitious. That’s for the purpose of setting you agaisnt the man from the beginning, before you even click. The article’s title makes you a biased jury before you begin reading. But these commenters who were not duped by the title did indeed get duped by the article, as these commenters above still ridicule the innocent man and defend the unjust corporate and government tyranny.

    This article is pure propaganda, cleverly designed to get a society of free people to trade freedom for tyranny, by lying about the situation. Remember that the devil lies and manipulates, but it is you who accepts it. Sentences can always be structured in the passive voice, eliminating proper nouns, so as to remove blame for those who are actually guilty, and to deflect blame onto the innocent. “The man was removed from a seat”, instead of, “The airline and the police removed a man from his rightful seat”. The article says the man refuses to change seats. But the article doesn’t say he didn’t have to change seats, because that was his seat. Only those people in society with deductive logic, and who choose to use it, can understand what really happened. Everyone (all of you) get fooled, and lose your liberty, piece by piece.

    Thankfully, Dave above described how these airlines work injustice by manipulating seats for an extra buck, and setting up checks to deny wrongdoing and culpability (everybody blames somebody else or some policy). And in this case, that extra buck caused everyone on this aircraft to be late for their arrivals and connecting flights, and

    These headlines and sentence structures are written purposefully to promote the agenda, and I have noticed the only people who understand how to read these duplicitous articles are foreigners who escaped from this type of tyranny, and Americans who have spent significant time living and working abroad. Most Americans just don’t have a single clue that our entire press and government has been infiltrated and usurped by communists, and that articles like these are intelligently designed to pit the unthinking masses against the knowledgeable, who are trying to wake them up.

    All of these articles follow the same design: misleading article, passive voice sentence structures, avoiding real questions and journalism, no names nor who, what, where, when, why ever fully detailed, a shortened video clip that only shows what the propagandists want you to see, omission of critical facts (the article doesn’t say it was assigned his seat, but the article also doesn’t say it wasn’t his assigned seat either). It’s all designed to bring you to the edge of what really happened, so that you THINK you got the full picture and therefore don’t question the article, and takes advantage of the fact that 98% of people just don’t think, and can’t process the blatantly obvious questions and holes in the article.

    And of course, finally, as do all these articles, only the very last line gives you the fact needed to derive for yourself the actual truth, if you have deductive reasoning, which most people don’t. But most people don’t get to the last line anyway.

    Armed with this knowledge, you will soon notice that all articles these days are structured this way, in order to nudge society into a specific direction, that society would otherwise not go, if society knew what was taking place. Don’t take my word for it. Just analyse articles from now on, and you will see it so clearly.

    The video in the article is reminiscent of the Back Against the Wall song video, by Pink Ffloyd. Watch Back Against the Wall, by Pink ffloyd, then watch the video in this article. That should be enough to waken you up… hopefully.

    Please people, when you read these articles, THINK. Ask questions. Read the last paragraphs. Be willing to say, “This does not make any sense”, and “Why is the writer presenting the information in this odd, roundabout way?” Learn to read between the lines. Your future, and your freedom, literally depends on it.

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