Former New York Senator Al D’Amato was kicked off a Monday night JetBlue flight after complaining about the pre-take off delay at Fort Lauderdale airport, according to witnesses.
D’Amato reportedly became upset, as many other passengers were, after the flight that was initially supposed to depart just after 1:30 p.m. was delayed six separate times until 6:30 and when passengers actually boarded there was an additional delay, according to a passenger on the flight.
— Layla D (@laylafd31) January 10, 2017
According to Layla Delarmelina, the captain asked 10 people from the first nine rows to move to the back due to weight constraints on the plane, but people became irritated when no one was moving, so the former senator spoke up.
“We weren’t moving and the captain wasn’t doing anything so the former senator got up and asked people to move to the back. No one was moving so he flipped out and called them them idiots and said, ‘the captain needs to grow some balls,'” Delarmelina told InsideEdition.com.
Delarmelina said they then kicked him off the plane.
In videos recorded of the event, D’Amato can be heard telling passengers, “We can still speak in this country. And what you’re doing to me — and I want to tell you this: I’m making an appeal to all you people. You want to know what? That’s the only thing they’ll know.”
Other passengers can be heard on the video saying, “this is not right at all” and “do we still live in America?”
A spokesman for the former senator later said JetBlue apologized to D’Amato.
“JetBlue has apologized to the senator for overreacting and the senator apologized for speaking his mind at a time when he clearly had left his patience at the gate,” Gary Lewi told Mic.com.
“Anyone who knows Senator D’Amato knows he speaks his mind – but in this case he spoke after a long and demanding trip to Florida to visit an ailing friend, a five hour airport ground delay, additional delays as the crew sought to deal with weight and balance issues and then sleep deprivation.”
JetBlue also issued a statement about the incident.
“The decision to remove a customer from a flight is not taken lightly. If a customer is causing a conflict on the aircraft, it is standard procedure to ask the customer to deplane, especially if the crew feels the situation runs a risk of escalation in-flight.”