This has to be one of the stranger experiences I’ve seen, even for American Airlines and even for 2021. Austin Barrington was flying from Baltimore to New York JFK and on to Antigua on Wednesday, November 3. And during his layover he was followed around the airport by an American Eagle pilot.
I have 2 more minutes of him following me recorded, where he says he will follow me into a bathroom. Obviously did not go, as that is the last place you want to run into a guy like this. Notified policy and agent afterward
— Austin Barrington (@arbarrington_12) November 3, 2021
This is odd behavior for a pilot, even if the passenger had done something wrong. Write them up. Report them to law enforcement. But.. follow them around the airport yourself?
I reached out to the passenger after his tweet to see what I could uncover. I’ve come to learn that passengers aren’t always forthcoming about their own behavior so I poked and prodded for what he might have done to trigger the crew. His version of the story,
I was drinking a Red Bull and they said something to the pilot that had him walk back to my seat yelling before he got there. My Mouth and nose covered, and no words of any kind had been exchanged between me or the crew at this time. …So after he yelled, the flight attendant does like a 30s stare down with me.
I was a bit put off after that, and was reading with my legs crossed and she came by to say in her sweetest voice, to uncross my legs. I left my legs crossed. I assume that she whispered other things in the pilots ear due to this after we landed, causing him to say “I will follow you anywhere you go” and literally following me for half a mile before I evaded him by going up and then back down an escalator quickly. ..Mask over the nose for the entire flight besides maybe 5 total minutes of sipping my Red Bull and water.
According to the passenger, “No one said a single thing to me on the flight until he came up yelling. I was beyond shocked to have him following me around for over 5 minutes and across the airport. I definitely did not break any federal mandates, I’m absolutely sure the other passengers would attest to my wearing a mask for 98% of the flight.”
He admits that when he was told to ‘uncross his leg’ that he “made a comment along the lines of ‘oh is that for my safety too’ though I wonder if his crossed leg was blocking the aisle. And I do wonder if, while he wore a mask, maybe it was below his nose?
He shared “the rest of the video” since he’d only offered a snippet on twitter.
You might have thought this was the end of the story. He flew to Antigua to attend a wedding. He received his check-in email 24 hours prior to his return like normal. Then when he arrived at the airport on Sunday he was told he couldn’t fly. He was banned from travel on American Airlines, and says that he does not know why he was stranded in Antigua.
I reached out to American. According to a spokesperson,
Our team is in contact with the customer regarding his experience and our Corporate Security team is reviewing.
Ultimately the passenger’s only defense to the airline’s banning decision was his recording – a recording which would have violated the airline’s rules, taking place in terminal areas that they control. Maybe he sassed a flight attendant, or maybe he even had a mask beneath his nose, but being followed through the terminal by a pilot is… bizarre.