Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Woman thrown off U.S. Airways flight for taking a picture of rude air steward's name tag
A photographer was thrown off a U.S. Airways flight and branded a security risk after she took a photo of a rude air steward's name tag so she could complain about her.
Sandy DeWitt was boarding the flight to Miami at Philadelphia International Airport on Friday when she said an employee was being rude to several passengers in the boarding area.
Ms DeWitt decided to take a photo of her name tag - which was Tonialla G. - so she could remember it when she complained.
But once she took her seat and turned off her iPhone, Tonialla G. got on the plane and confronted her.
In an interview with Photography is Not a Crime, Ms DeWitt said that the employee ordered her to delete the photo.
She turned her phone on and showed Ms G that the photo was too dark and her name couldn't be made out anyway but even when she deleted the photo, she said Tonialla G. would not let the issue go.
She said: 'I complied with her wishes but it’s not something I would normally do. It just wasn’t usable.
The employee then went to the cockpit and told the pilot that Ms DeWitt was a security risk and needed to be escorted off the plane, which she was by two flight attendants.
She said: 'I announced to the other passengers that I was being removed because I took a photo. I announced that photography is not a crime.
When she got off the plane, she spoke to U.S. Airways manager at the airport who confirmed that she was now deemed a security risk.
She was not able to board another flight to Miami until the next morning with U.S.
Airways and so had to fly to Fort Lauderdale with Southwest and get a friend to driver her and her husband to Miami International Airport to pick up her car.
She said: 'Southwest really stepped up to the plate for us. I can’t say enough about them.
Todd Lehmacher, a spokesperson for U.S. Airways, told msnbc.com that Ms DeWitt was removed for being 'disruptive'.
He said: 'Once onboard, she was using foul and explicit language. She was removed at the request of the captain.'
Mr Lehmacher could not confirm whether or not Ms DeWitt was asked by an employee to delete a photo or whether or not that employee told the captain she was a threat to security.
He also did not know what Ms DeWitt specifically said onboard that led to her removal.
According to Ms DeWitt's website, her dad first put a camera into her hands when she was 11 years old.
She writes: 'I discovered my passion and disappeared from the family photo album.
'My dad is still looking for me'.