American Airlines staff called police Thursday morning just before 6 a.m. at the Orlando airport. I’ve seen little written about what the man did to create a disturbance at the check-in counter.
The airline decided that 59 year old doctor Jeffrey Epstein’s customer service should be outsourced to law enforcement. Airline staff decided that he wouldn’t be allowed to fly as well.
That’s when the man says he decided to make a point.
- Airlines shouldn’t be calling the cops on customers who aren’t dangerous
- When airlines do call the cops they should be trying to de-escalate the situation
- If a 59 year old white guy is going to be manhandled by the cops, what chance do minorities have?
He calls himself “a conservative Republican, I’m a Trump guy” but he says the situation he found himself in — caught on video — makes him sympathetic to what others go through, “I don’t blame black people for being upset when they get arrested.”
He said he was trying to make a point about police use of force. He said the disruption was done to “prove a point.”
“If you’re going to do this to a white doctor, who’s 59-years-old, for doing nothing, then why would black people trust you?,”
..Epstein also said he was trying to teach airlines a lesson about customer service.
“I was no danger. I was being loud because I wanted everyone to see. I wanted everything to be out in the open. Big companies have to take care of their customers, and when they call the cops in, they got to deescalate, not escalate,” Epstein said.
Police used pepper spray. After they arrested him they claimed to have found “a plastic bag of suspected cannabis, less than 20 grams” and he was hospitalized for chest pains after being taken away before being transferred to jail.
Here’s video of the altercation.
Let’s be clear. We don’t know what happened before the video, in his interactions with American Airlines staff. In reading through coverage at most I’ve seen reported that he “continued to yell profanities and other remarks about American Airlines’ business practices.” There’s been no allegation of any threats or physical violence.
If he was a very frustrated customer it hardly seems like the right outcome is to call the police and arrest the man. Once the police were on the scene the man seemed to have – and acknowledges – that he sought to provoke a response. Maybe he shouldn’t have done that, but was the police response here necessary either?
I continue to worry that airlines really haven’t learned very much — other than to pay more involuntary denied boarding compensation — from last year’s United Airlines David Dao fiasco. Police remain adjunct airline customer service representatives for dealing with unhappy passengers.