US Airways Employee Handles Complaining Passenger The 'TSA Way'

from the which,-oddly-enough,-is-also-the-'law-enforcement-way' dept

The problem with bad behavior is that it rubs off on others and this is one of those "Everything I Needed to Know About Human Behavior I Learned in Kindergarten/the Stanford Prison Experiment" moments.

Hypothetical: If you're a US Airways employee and you don't like the fact that your rudeness has prompted a passenger to snap a picture of your nametag for reference, how would you handle it? Well, chances are you'd handle it the way you routinely see problems like this handled in an airport:

Sandy DeWitt said the employee, whose name was Tonialla G., was being rude to several passengers in the boarding area of the flight to Miami. So DeWitt snapped a photo of her nametag with her iPhone because she planned to complain about her in a letter to US Airways. But the photo didn’t come out because it was too dark.

However, once DeWitt was settled in her seat, preparing for take-off, Tonialla G. entered the plane and confronted her. "She told me to delete the photo," DeWitt said in an interview with Photography is Not a Crime Saturday morning.

Of course that's the way you handle it. The TSA handles complaints and "unruly" photographers this way as do several members of law enforcement. Obviously you, as a private citizen (and "hypothetical" US Airways employee), should be able to handle your current "situation" in the same fashion.

But that's not all. Once you've verified that the photo has been deleted, it's time to take the "situation" to a whole new level:

[T]onialla G. wouldn’t let the issue go. She then walked into the cockpit to inform the pilot that DeWitt was a "security risk." Next thing DeWitt knew, she was being escorted off the plane by two flight attendants. Her husband followed.

Off the plane, she spoke to a Michael Lofton, a US Airways manager at Philadelphia International Airport, who told her she would not be allowed back on the plane because she was a security risk. But even though she was supposedly a security risk, Lofton directed her to American Airlines where they supposedly had a flight back to Miami leaving soon.

Beautiful. It's great to see TSA-esque tactics being wielded by employees, who don't like being held responsible for their actions. It's also great to see that US Airways didn't even bother to check out her story before forcing her to switch flights. And it's mind-blowingly idiotic to see a person that one airline has deemed a "security risk" is allowed to board another airline without any hassle. 

This may be US Airlines' black eye (and they've got several), but it appears to be a yet another case of abusive behavior hiding behind the one-size-fits-all label of "security."

Tip of the hat to Reason Hit n' Run.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    trish, Jul 6th, 2011 @ 3:03pm

    disgusting

    so tonialla g, if that is her real name, loses her job and gets in trouble with the fbi for lying about someone being a security risk, right?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2011 @ 3:06pm

    Tim, much better article here than a lot in the past. Heavy on information, light on personal commentary. Nice work!

    As for the topic, this is ridiculous. Now, not only do we have to deal with the abusive TSA, we need to deal with the abusive airline employees. Bloody hell.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    Danny (profile), Jul 6th, 2011 @ 3:09pm

    Inquiring minds...

    Please do track this story in tech dirt as it develops. I'd love to know what happens to these two issue employees once calm corporate heads prevail.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Chris Rhodes (profile), Jul 6th, 2011 @ 3:17pm

    Re: Inquiring minds...

    Punishing photographers and malcontents? Making vague assertions about security that your next actions blatantly prove to be a lie?

    The TSA will offer them a job!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2011 @ 3:21pm

    Abuse of Authority

    Tonialla should be fired for abuse of authority.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Mike42 (profile), Jul 6th, 2011 @ 3:27pm

    How do you spell relief? B-O-Y-C-O-T-T. The airlines are already hurting. Rub some salt in, and take alternative modes of transportation.

    The only way to get the TSA out is to hit the industries in the pocketbook.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2011 @ 3:42pm

    I have for some time now refused to do air lines for travel. The hassle of the TSA ensures that I won't fly. Not because I have any interest in terrorism, not because of a bag checked going and coming, but the over reaching, sexual violation, papers please mentality.

    In any other country this would be considered sexual harassment. In the workplace it would be considered sexual harassment. Parents spend years teaching their kids it's not ok for strangers to do this without their implicit permission. Suddenly that's to be all thrown out for the reason of security? I don't think so.

    I'm glad the airlines can afford to just piss off customers so they never return. I'm glad they have enough profit to be able to take a choice in the matter as they have done in this instance.

    I have no problem with driving nor taking a train somewhere but that too may change with the TSA creep. (pun intended)

    If you are just joining the boycott I welcome you.

    It's not that I fear flying, crap I served in the 82ⁿᵈ with some time overseas. It's just I don't agree with the flying conditions and I don't agree with the mentality. I won't pay to go through some crap like this. I have a choice and will chose how I travel.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Joe, Jul 6th, 2011 @ 3:47pm

    The Answer - Get your own PPL

    @Mike42...How do I spell relief? I'm getting my own private pilots license so I don't have to screw with all the crap that most people screw with.

    No need to get cancer going through the checkpoints; no need to wait in abysmal lines, no need to get some disease from the person sitting next to you; no need to be unduly searched and seized if you refuse the 'cancer coffin'.

    And, you can rent aircraft for the price of renting a car - btw, you only pay for the time the plane is actually flying, not while its sitting.

    If you can drive a stick shift auto, you can fly a plane - and the cost to learn ~$2000 give or take.

    Take that TSA, Airlines - I'm flying myself :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2011 @ 3:47pm

    Re: disgusting

    What dream world are you living in? They probably will get a promotion and moved to customer service.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    ASTROBOI, Jul 6th, 2011 @ 3:49pm

    Fear of flying

    I'd never fly anywhere unless I had to go to Europe or Japan or something like that. Even then, I'd check out the possibility of going by ship. For USA, its trains, bus or drive myself. Yeah, it would take longer but I'd probably get there without being arrested, manhandled and humiliated. I'm more afraid of "the good guys" than I am of terrorists or of plane crashes. The reported foolishness sounds more like kids on the school bus than reasoning adults on a billion buck airliner. Another once-cool thing is gone forever. Flying is a last resort now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2011 @ 3:51pm

    Re: The Answer - Get your own PPL

    More information on renting planes, please!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    cc (profile), Jul 6th, 2011 @ 3:52pm

    Man, these airline security types sure seem to have you by the balls.

    (sorry)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    TSA Security Manager, Jul 6th, 2011 @ 3:52pm

    Re:

    So you're trying to attack the airlines financially? Sounds like someone wants some in house checks. We can't have people making threats to the airlines now can we.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Mr Big Content, Jul 6th, 2011 @ 4:17pm

    Thank God For The Second Amendment!

    Remember, they canít risk angering us as long as we have our guns.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    TSA Security Manager, Jul 6th, 2011 @ 4:32pm

    Re: Thank God For The Second Amendment!

    Looks like Ram Emanuel's plan need to be put into action, and we need to add more names to the no fly list.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Al Queda, Jul 6th, 2011 @ 4:35pm

    Re: The Answer - Get your own PPL

    I am wanting to know more about renting a plane please.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Atkray (profile), Jul 6th, 2011 @ 4:42pm

    Hold the fort

    So if she is a security risk that the ever alert Tonialla G. spotted and thankfully protected the rest of the passengers from,

    How did she get past TSA?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    howardschultz (profile), Jul 6th, 2011 @ 5:00pm

    lol

    pretty pathetic. and unfortunately, pretty predictable.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    icon
    Greg G (profile), Jul 6th, 2011 @ 5:06pm

    Re: Hold the fort

    That was exactly my first thought. TSA fail.. as usual.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2011 @ 5:30pm

    Too big to fail

    Nah, he's secretly a double agent. The airlines are angling for a bailout.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    molecule (profile), Jul 6th, 2011 @ 5:33pm

    good article / terrible incident

    typo in the next-to-last sentence of article: should be "..US Airways' black eye..."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Kevin, Jul 6th, 2011 @ 5:39pm

    Re: Re: Inquiring minds...

    At the end of the day, pay us your chunk of skin for this flight in this terribly uncomfortable can of tuna with the rest of them, sit down, shut up, and remember, your comfort, enjoying yourself, is of no concern to the airlines. They are doing us a favor by even letting us potential picture takers on the plane in the first place.

    The word Terrorism, is the answer to any and every level of the airline industry not taking responsibility for poorly trained employees or overpaid malcontents. It is also more frequent now than at any other time, due to all of the hoops one has to jump through just to get on a plane anymore. The story sickens me, but alas is much the norm anymore.

    Pathetic, and this is the USA?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    PrometheeFeu (profile), Jul 6th, 2011 @ 5:47pm

    That sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen. (I hope we don't have to wait too long for it) The airline sold that person a ticket. Then, for no good reason, they were denied the seat they paid for. If it was me, I would file a lawsuit. When the airline called for settlement, I would simply say: "Pay my lawyer's fees, fire the two people who did this, sue them for damaging your reputation and I'll be happy."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    Mike C. (profile), Jul 6th, 2011 @ 5:58pm

    Re: Hold the fort

    My first thought was why didn't she ask for the police. If she was a security risk, she should have requested a police presence immediately to clear her name so that she could fly on another airline.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2011 @ 5:58pm

    forget TSA

    What was wrong with the plane that US Airlines was afraid to have photographed on board by a Iphone wielding woman?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Louis Loria II, Jul 6th, 2011 @ 6:30pm

    Dogmatic Assholes

    The TSA sucks ass.... hire the most ignorrant, uneducated people you can find, fill them with your dogmatic bullshit and have them secure our air travel for little more than minimum wage... Welcome to Amerika comrade!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Jul 6th, 2011 @ 6:43pm

    Wow - what a vindictive bitch.
    I bet she is a hoot at parties.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2011 @ 6:45pm

    Re:

    I have nothing useful to add to the conversation, but I do want to let Tim know that I agree with this. In my opinion this was well written and well thought out without including the melodrama.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    That Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2011 @ 7:30pm

    They updated the original story and US Airways claims now the woman they bounced was being disruptive and using foul language and that is why she was put off.

    I wonder if she was disruptive before or after she had her rights violated, or when she announced that photography was not a crime.

    One still wonders how loud and disruptive she needed to be to get a gate agent to come from the terminal all the way down to the plane to deal with it.

    I wonder if any of the other people on the plane and in the terminal that day will come forward with their version of the story so in the middle we can find the truth.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Nicedoggy, Jul 6th, 2011 @ 8:43pm

    Re: Re: The Answer - Get your own PPL

    Terrafugia just got permits for the road, now you can fly and drive in one :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    JMT (profile), Jul 6th, 2011 @ 9:29pm

    Re:

    "Heavy on information, light on personal commentary."

    If that's what you want, read a newspaper. This is an opinion blog, which is supposed to have personal commentary. Some of us quite like Tim's humorous approach, so please either stop complaining (or damning with praise in this case) or stop reading.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    icon
    mattarse (profile), Jul 7th, 2011 @ 1:35am

    Re: Re: The Answer - Get your own PPL

    Heres' everything you need to know about renting an airplane - http://bit.ly/mWhWaN

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2011 @ 4:18am

    Re: Re: disgusting

    Doesn't this now open USAir to some sort of defamation suit on the part of the passenger?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2011 @ 4:25am

    Re: Re: Hold the fort

    There is a multimillion dollar lawsuit here especially if the woman's name lands on the terrorist watch list. What the woman needed was the app that automatically syncs your pictures with the web.

    An immediate twit pic to @usairways and a posting on facebook with the complaint is the only way to handle these things.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Jul 7th, 2011 @ 5:51am

    Re:

    Was it US Scareways that kicked off a lady because she was not "properly dressed" ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    icon
    Sean T Henry (profile), Jul 7th, 2011 @ 6:31am

    Re: Re:

    I like Tim's commentary in his postings but some times he goes a little to heavy with it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2011 @ 6:40am

    Advertisement

    This is just a great commercial idea for AA.
    They should re-enact the whole scene with the US Airways and end with a calm and pleasent experience in American Airlines. Whouldn't you rather fly this way?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    icon
    Sean T Henry (profile), Jul 7th, 2011 @ 6:41am

    Re: Too big to fail [so make it smaller]

    Instead of a bailout give the money to the railways. I want to be able to a train from coast to coast and it not take longer than it did in the 30s.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2011 @ 6:46am

    You don't like your treatment then don't patronize that business. Duh!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Brian, Jul 7th, 2011 @ 7:10am

    Sue her a$$!

    I would take out a personal lawsuit for defamation of character. You can't tell people that someone is a security risk when they are not and get away with it. Especially if that causes her to lose something. Sue her a$$ personally. Shoot, I might throw in a few other charges, like bribery (I'm sure that is not the correct legal word for it), especially if the TSA agent said that if she didn't delete the photo, that she would make her life hell or something like that.

    Although the TSA is a needed service in these tumultuous times, I'm sure it is easy for someone with a big head and a bad day to abuse the authority given. But these people need to be held personally accountable for their indiscretions. It is too easy these days for one to not be held accountable for what they do, especially if they work for a government agency or a large company.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2011 @ 9:00am

    finally an airline that will not put up with passenger rage. I love it and now will fly only on USAirways.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    icon
    ComputerAddict (profile), Jul 7th, 2011 @ 10:03am

    Re: Sue her a$$!

    "Although the TSA is a needed service in these tumultuous times"

    Proof?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2011 @ 1:14pm

    Re: Re:

    Compare Tim's and Mike's posts. Tim's are abrasive and read like a small child. Mike's are why I come to TR.

    This was the first post by Tim I've been able to read all the way through.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Irate Pirate, Jul 7th, 2011 @ 8:03pm

    Re: Abuse of Authority

    This is one of those stories where benfit of the doubt is important. Being a married man, I can't help but wonder if it was "that" time of the month for Tonialla. Not that it should be an excuse mind you, especially her taking it to the extreme by lying, but seeing as Tim brings up human nature I feel it may be relevant. The fact that Tonialla was being generally grumpy/rude with everyone at first kind of gives it away. Meds are another possibility. There is a reason some warn against operating machinery/working until you know how it affects you. In any case, I hope to see more information as this story develops. She definitely went to far and I believe DeWitt deserves an apology at the very least.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Irate Pirate, Jul 7th, 2011 @ 8:16pm

    Re: Re: Too big to fail [so make it smaller]

    I'll second that. Watching the train scene in "The Tourist" the other day got me thinking about it. All my friends and family live 1.5 hours away and I'm so sick of the drive. I'd give anything to board a high speed train which cuts that time to less than half. There have been several late night drives home when I've come close to falling asleep at the wheel, so it would improve safety and reduce stress too. Enjoy a good meal, read a book, take a nap. Before you know it, you've arrived at your destination. Man I envy those Europeans.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    icon
    HomerJ (profile), Jul 8th, 2011 @ 8:54pm

    My wife had an issue with a US Air stewardess a few months ago. She didn't want to give up her aisle seat to a service guy coming home (he was dressed in civvilian clothes and was sitting in her seat when she got on the plane). He was sitting in her seat and asked to see her ticket when she came to sit down. Not sure why he felt he had the right to question my wife about her seat assignment. Apparently he had the window seat and was not happy about it. He moved to several other aisle seats and was asked to move several times. The stewardess came over and proceeded to tell my wife she was unpatriotic for not giving him her seat. At this point my wife had already switched with the person in the middle who claimed to be claustrophobic. So she no longer had the aisle seat to give up. The stewardess moved the guy to a different window seat.
    I thought it was rather presumptuous of the stewardess and the serviceman to simply expect someone to change seats without asking first. It was really unprofessional of the stewardess to admonish my wife loudly in front of a plane full of people. If they had asked her politely they may have gotten a differnt result. Seems everyone wanted her seat.
    She got the name of the stewardess and wrote to the CEO of US Air. We got a letter back saying they would investigate but could not divulge any disciplinary action taken over the incident for privacy reasons. Guess they have plenty of customers and did not need us to fly their airline anymore.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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