EasyJet Tries To Stop Guy From Boarding Because He Tweeted Something Critical

from the customer-service! dept

Ah, yet another customer service debacle. Mark Leiser, a law lecturer and columnist, tweeted a slightly negative tweet about low-cost European airline EasyJet after his flight was delayed, and EasyJet customer service was somewhat rude in response (basically telling him and others that if they missed connections, that was their own problem, not EasyJet’s).

Soon after that he was approached by a staff member and told he couldn’t board the flight because of the tweet.

“I put out a tweet about it and then when I got in the queue, and a member of staff approached me and asked if she could have a quick word,” Leiser explained. “She said she understood I’d said something on social media about easyJet and then told me they were not allowing me to board the flight.

“I said you’re kidding me; I asked where that had come from and she told me I should know I’m not allowed to do that. I was stunned. I told her I didn’t really understand what she was telling me and she said: ‘You’re not allowed to talk about easyJet like that and then expect to get on a flight’.”

“She then asked me to step out of the queue and repeated that she was not letting me on the flight. I told her she’d better get somebody down to discuss this and she told me the manager was on his way to speak to me. Then she told said she couldn’t believe I thought what I’d done was appropriate. I was just sitting there in disbelief.

“So the the manager arrived and told me that based on my tweet they couldn’t let me board the flight because I wasn’t allowed to do that and I should know better….

Leiser eventually brought up the concept of free speech (which doesn’t technically apply here, as it wouldn’t have been the government stopping him from speaking, and EasyJet, as a private company, can choose not to allow anyone on their planes, no matter how stupid the reason). That seemed to spook the apparently clueless EasyJet employees, who asked if he was a lawyer. Once he told them he taught law, they thought about it and eventually let him on the plane.

Now, once again, EasyJet certainly can choose not to do business with anyone they choose. However, if they decide to do it for monumentally stupid reasons like they don’t like the tweet that someone sent out, then they have to deal with the consequences of that, such as being called out for it, and widely mocked for being ridiculous.

The company, for its part, appears to be in something of denial about what happened, issuing the following statement:

EasyJet has never denied boarding due to comments on social media. On the rare occasion that we consider denying boarding it is on the basis of disruptive behaviour.

While technically this might be true (they eventually let him board), it certainly appears they were about to not let him board because of social media. The airline would have been better off admitting that some staff members got a little power hungry after their colleagues were criticized for being uncaring, and that it would review its training and policies on these things.

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Comments on “EasyJet Tries To Stop Guy From Boarding Because He Tweeted Something Critical”

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out_of_the_blue says:

An elitist academic who feels entitled to hassle the serfs.

It’s more likely. There’s no more sure indication of character than how people treat waiters and other menials. I always assume that low-level people are trying to do the best they can, but here at Techdirt, workers are never appreciated. Problems arise, people. You are not the only ones who suffer, let alone the worst. Get over yourselves.

First noticed in link below where Mike sets tone in the title: staffer “claims”, and even after his take is rebutted by the actual fired person, Mike just lets his and other insults lay:


MrWilson says:

Re: An elitist academic who feels entitled to hassle the serfs.

He tweeted comments on a social media platform. He didn’t hassle the airline staff at all. They wouldn’t have known about it if someone from the company hadn’t be trawling their social media accounts and informed the local staff. Also, his comment was an attempt to help someone else. He wasn’t even complaining for himself.

What part of that strikes you as elitist? At worst, he was a little passive aggressive, but I wouldn’t even say that.

I’m sure anyone with a college education seems elitist to you, so your definition of elitist isn’t very relevant.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You should know

Rule one of the social media age- Expect that any slight, perceived slight or injustice will get tweeted, facebooked and shared.

Rule two reacting to rule one with anything less than an apology will get one hundred fold the traction.

Rule three you need to train good customer service individuals at all levels who are aware of Rules 1 and 2 and empowered to run off any problems.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: You should know

If you were a low-paid grunt who hated his employer, you’d break all those rules just because

I’ve been the low-paid grunt with a crappy job who hated his employer a few times in my life. I would never have treated a customer that way, even on my worst days. There’s just no excuse for that, period. It’s not the customer’s fault that the employer is a dickwad.

If it’s so intolerable that rage is making you lash out at innocent bystanders, then you really need to stop working there. Poverty is preferable to that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Now, once again, EasyJet certainly can choose not to do business with anyone they choose.

Once they have a contract they’re bound, though.

Or do you think there might be an escape clause that gives them unlimited discretion to refuse a customer? Often “unlimited” discretion gets limited in practice by courts to customary behavior with a reasonable goal. Actions that damage both sides are frowned on by courts.

JMT says:

Re: Re:

“Or do you think there might be an escape clause that gives them unlimited discretion to refuse a customer?”

I’m quite sure there is. As the EasyJet statement said, “On the rare occasion that we consider denying boarding it is on the basis of disruptive behaviour.” It will almost certainly be in the fineprint when buying a ticket that ‘disruptive behaviour’ will keep you off the plane. That accusation was completely unjustified in this case, but that’ll be the escape clause you ask about.

Anonymous Coward says:

While the Free Speech aspect is obviously a non-starter for a private company if you have an ounce of sense (which, to be fair, they obviously didn’t if they even threatened him with this), I’d be more than a little curious to see what kind of contractual obligation according to their own Terms of Service after having accepted his money for the flight. Looking at their own Article 19, I don’t see anything about “complained on Twitter”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

This is the closest thing they have:

“19.2.7 You have used threatening, abusive or insulting words to, or have behaved in a threatening, abusive or insulting manner towards, a member of easyJet staff, crew or Airport Staff or a fellow passenger; “

That tweet does not seem to me to be threatening, abusive, or insulting.

I agree that once they take the person’s money, they have an obligation to fly that person if possible. You cannot have a contract without one side receiving something. And that “something” has to be a bit more solid than “we’ll transport you, maybe, if we feel like it, but not if you dare to criticize us on Twitter.”

Sheogorath (profile) says:

Re: Re:

From Wikipedia: easyJet plc (styled as easyJet; LSE: EZJ) is a British airline carrier based at London Luton Airport. It is the largest airline of the United Kingdom.
From a page about the Human Rights Act 1998: 1. Right to life

2. Protection from torture and mistreatment

3. Right to liberty and security

4. Protection from slavery and forced labour

5. Right to a fair trial

6. No punishment without law

7. Respect for your private and family life

8. Freedom of thought, belief and religion

9. Freedom of expression

10. Freedom of assembly and association

11. Right to marry

12. Protection from discrimination

13. Protection of property

14. Right to education

15. Right to free elections
Number nine in the list above covers what the guy did by taking to Twitter, and because easyJet is a UK company, they’re totally bound by it.
On a side note, the Tories are still wanting to scrap the Human Rights Act, and I suspect number four in the above list is the reason. All that stuff about it stopping them getting Abu Hamza out of the country was a false flag.

Anonymous Coward says:

While EasyJet may or may not have such a clause in their ticket contract, I can assure you that the very best or the very worst advertisement comes not from the advertising companies but by those who use their service. Those that speak highly of some service aren’t paid to do so and you can not get better nor worst testimonials than those. I personally would listen sooner to someone spouting off the glories of some product or service I intended to use and believe them than I would something from an advertising agency paid to do that.

Exactly what does EasyJet expect Mark Leiser to say now that he has went through this experience with them? The Streisand effect at it’s finest would be what I expect. Not exactly what the so called employees of the company sought to achieve.

ECA (profile) says:

Ummm, WHO understands what happened?

I hope a few of you folks understand what happened..

they either TRACKEd the sent post from his device
READ the post as it was sent thru their server..

Yes this is Private property, and Private servers, and YEs they can monitor them..and its an interesting idea..(better then the Gov. can do) but DONT THINK you have any PRIVACY.

I can see what would happen if he was watching Airplane CRASH VIDEOS…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Ummm, WHO understands what happened?

Still creepy, imagine you tweet anything and somebody comes to talk to you about what you just did.

Some level of surveillance they do get going there.

Now if you where to call them with a complain you probably never hear a human voice ever or get a response, but if you tweet something bad they come talk to you in person to make threats?

This should be a Futurama episode.

JMT says:

Re: Re: Re: Ummm, WHO understands what happened?

“Still creepy, imagine you tweet anything and somebody comes to talk to you about what you just did.”

Well you hypo’ has absolutely no context, so it’s hard to see any creepy, but in this case the whole point was to get easyJet’s attention and complain about a problem. What if instead of this PR disaster, easyJet had approached him to personally apologise and explain how they were going to put things right. Would you still be creeped out?

“Some level of surveillance they do get going there.”

Clunky English aside, it takes a wildly paranoid mind to see ‘surveillance’ in a company looking out for public tweets about them. You seemed to have missed the whole point of the use of social media in customer relations.

Andres (profile) says:

Re: Ummm, WHO understands what happened?

He has tweeted to explain what happened:


“@timanderson @easyJet Relatively simple. I told girl I was speaking 2 I was going 2 tweet 2 see if we could help get the guy to Portsmouth.”

This makes it clear that he borught the tweet to their attention, easyjet are not monitoring any feeds.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Ummm, WHO understands what happened?

“This makes it clear that he borught the tweet to their attention”

Actually the fact that he addressed the tweet specifically to them with the @easyjet brought it to their attention. The fact that he mentioned it to the person he was speaking to brought it to the attention of that specific person. So, some customer services rep on the Twitter account probably read it, but that had nothing to do with his interaction with the ground crew.

So, no conspiracy, and I’d suggest ECA learns how Twitter actually works before donning his tinfoil hat next time.

“easyjet are not monitoring any feeds”

They are. Specifically, they’re monitoring anything specifically flagged for their attention be people using the @easyjet, just as every twitter user has their mentions highlighted. That’s the entire point of them having a Twitter account in the first place – so that customers can contact them via an alternative means. Not a conspiracy.

Andres (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Ummm, WHO understands what happened?

“They are. Specifically, they’re monitoring anything specifically flagged for their attention be people using the @easyjet, just as every twitter user has their mentions highlighted. That’s the entire point of them having a Twitter account in the first place – so that customers can contact them via an alternative means. Not a conspiracy.”

Agreed, I’ve had them contact me a couple of times when I mentioned that my flight was delayed, their social media team was courteous and helpful.

The key in this case, at least for me, is the sequence of events. What upset some people seems to be the implication that Mark sent a tweet, and this was somehow picked up by some social media person, who then contacted the Glasgow easyJet staff.

What appears to have happened is that he complained about the delay, then sent the soldier tweet, then went to the staff and complained again, this time showing them the tweet. At this point the manager intervenes, and the actual events become blurred.

Mleiser has gone awfully quiet on Twitter though, is there a CCTV of the event I wonder?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Ummm, WHO understands what happened?

“What upset some people seems to be the implication that Mark sent a tweet, and this was somehow picked up by some social media person, who then contacted the Glasgow easyJet staff.”

Even this was a stretch, though the conspiracy and paranoid theories stated here have just been ridiculous. At worst, all that happened is that somebody used a platform to specifically get their attention and someone responded in person. In other words, he got what he literally asked for, although he wasn’t happy with the response when he was heard.

The actual story was the apparent reaction to the tweet (nobody would have complained if the reaction was “sorry sir, what can we do to get your friend to his final destination?”). But, the above suggests that the tweet had nothing to do with either the contact or the actions taken by ground staff.

Once we accept that the tweet was probably immaterial to what happened, all we really have here is the story of an airline passenger who became annoyed at a delay to the the point where he was faced with not being allowed on board, then allowed on once he calmed down. Happens every day, and whether you like it or not airlines don’t have to do anything as long as they get you to the agreed destination within X hours or the original time. It sucks if you miss connections but any regular traveller should know to have contingencies. Don’t like it? He can use the other 2 airlines who run regular services between Glasgow and London as well as train and other modes of transportation.

Actual footage or quotes would be nice, but I think it’s safe to say that what happened is probably different to what was originally claimed and a lot of people are making comments based on faulty or irrelevant facts.

Anonymous Coward says:

Doesn’t bother anyone that the guy tweeted and was accosted immediately after?

How capable a system must be to find a random tweet in Twitter and match it with a real person?

If he was using his real name it could be easy, but if it was a screen name how the hell did they get that information, where it came from?

This is could be creepy, not the surveillance but that the system was configured to see if you were a client or would be a client of any company to further take negative actions against someone.

FM Hilton (profile) says:

Creepy invasion

“Doesn’t bother anyone that the guy tweeted and was accosted immediately after?”

Yup..this is definitely one airline that tracks the social media of its’ passengers.

I wonder if they have a FB account? Spam them about this on there….bet they won’t like ‘free speech’ at all after that.

Creepy and invasive as all hell.

Bengie says:

“Now, once again, EasyJet certainly can choose not to do business with anyone they choose.”

If you use a public resource, you should be only able to refuse service for public safety reasons or because of lack of payment/etc.

If EasyJet doesn’t like it, their planes should be shot-down by whatever government owns the air space.

PaulT (profile) says:


Basically, yes. If you’re mentioned (i.e. your username preceded by the @ sign), the message will appear in your feed regardless of whether you follow that user or not. Most professional Twitter users will use something like Tweetdeck, which allows granular control to the point where you can have a tab that consist solely of messages where you’ve been mentioned so that you can respond to them without the noise generated by your full feed.

Anyone who thinks that Easyjet was spying here, or that there’s some kind of conspiracy, literally doesn’t know how Twitter works. If Easyjet was responding to the tweet, they were responding to a public message flagged specifically for their attention.

PaulT (profile) says:

On the one hand, we’re only getting one side of the story for how this incident went down. It strikes me as somewhat… suspicious to claim that shortly after a tweet to a company-wide address using a pseudonym and not mentioning the airport they’re currently in, staff on the ground were mobilised to stop him from getting onboard because he badmouthed the airline. If they did this for every such tweet, especially those who are already experiencing genuine issues, it would take a lot of effort and result in nothing other than bad press from already irate customers.

It’s possible, I suppose, but it sounds fishy to me. More likely, they were being disruptive or rude, had already been threatening toward the staff (maybe being so without fully realising it in trying to get their soldier mate to his connection) and the guy wants to pretend it was because of his tweet rather than whatever behaviour they had in trying to get Easyjet to ship them off to Portsmouth. I can’t say for sure since there’s not enough info here, but it doesn’t ring totally true.

On the other hand, Easyjet aren’t the greatest company for customer service. I remember flying back with them on a flight that was delayed for nearly 4 hours, causing me to miss buses to my connection and incurring ?50 extra charges (this on a flight that cost ?80 and takes 3.5 hours). My complaint was dismissed since they got me to my destination on the specified day and thus weren’t legally required to give any further compensation.

I can imagine people getting very frustrated with them, especially if you’re depending on important connecting flights. But, with only one side of the story, the best bet for Leiser is to do what I do – take your business elsewhere, and make it know exactly why. Either this will make them see sense, or you get a better experience with another airline.

Oh well, they’re still better than Ryanair, who I avoid like the plague.

Pete Austin says:

Easyjet T&Cs allow them to ban him for tweeting

“If You conduct Yourself … at the airport so as to … use any … insulting words towards the crew … We may take such measures as We deem necessary to prevent continuation of such conduct, including … termination of Your continued travel on a Flight.” (from Section 19.1.2)

Still a PR Disaster tho’

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Easyjet T&Cs allow them to ban him for tweeting

If this is a matter subject to US law, and I do not believe this to be the case, the 1st Amendment is unavailing. However, passenger airlines, just like any other common carrier of passengers, is constrained by US law and required to provide carriage except in the most unusual of circumstances. It does seem rather doubtful that a criticism of service comprises such a circumstance.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Easyjet T&Cs allow them to ban him for tweeting

If the info presented by Leiser is correct (and as I’ve mentioned, I have serious doubts), it’s probably legal. Not a smart move in any way, but not illegal.

Americans can just stop trying to shoehorn American law in here, though. Easyjet operate in Europe and North Africa, not the US, so the US constitution doesn’t apply in any way. The linked article states he was trying to get from Glasgow to London and then a 3rd party connection to Portsmouth, so whatever law applies it’s UK law.

I’m going to guess that everything’s on Easyjet’s side even if his claim that it was the tweet and only the tweet that caused the incident is true (which I still have doubts about). If he’s not happy about that, well there’s other airlines and methods of transport he can use in future.

andrew (user link) says:

No, they shouldn't have the right to kick people off over this

Sorry, but just no.

EasyJet, as a private company, should absolutely not have the right to choose not to allow anyone on their planes, no matter how stupid the reason, nor should any service provider. If this were the case then we’d still have segregation in the U.S.

Does EasyJet somewhere publicly and clearly advertise that a critical tweet can void someone’s right to board their planes after buying a ticket? Does it state a time frame that such offending tweets could void a ticket (one hour before a flgiht, 24 hours, etc.)? Then they’re in breach of contract.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: No, they shouldn't have the right to kick people off over this

If this were the case then we’d still have segregation in the U.S.

Protected categories such as race and religion are exceptions. (speaking of the US) You cannot deny someone service because they’re a member of any of those categories, but otherwise in general absent any contractual obligation you can deny anyone service for any or no reason.

mleiser (profile) says:

This is Mark Leiser. AMA

This is Mark Leiser. I am an avid reader of, although not a commenter on the TechDirt site. I have been sent this link by a friend and wanted to clarify some things posted here re #EasyJetGate.

On a side note, some of you might find it humorous that prior to moving to the gate, I was working on a lecture this week on Cyber speech in the age of social media. But I digress.

The general facts of this incident have been reported elsewhere, so I won’t rehash them here. I just wanted to comment on some of the commentary made on this chain.

I approached the counter to inquire about train times. There was not any anger or complaint about the delay. All i wanted to know was whether or not I would make the last train. The first girl I spoke to was very helpful and advised me that she thought the trains ended at midnight. She called another girl over and she too was initially very helpful. I have used discount airlines many times before, and am well aware of the rules. This was not a conversation laced with grievance, but was an inquiry. I asked what time the plane was due to land so I could make an informed decision. At some point the second girl said I wasn’t the only one that had queries about times and there was a guy in the military who has missed his connection. There was no argument, no heated discussion, no debate. My last comment was, “I don’t know if I am comfortable with that. I think I am going to see if I can get social media to help this guy out”. Up until this point, I characterised the conversation as helpful, pleasant, and jovial. I walked away from the counter thinking nothing about the nature of the conversation with either of the girls at the counter.

I milled about the waiting area and sent the first tweet. I got in the queue. While I was in the queue I took a photo of the large TV screen with the EasyJet logo. I sent it to several mates with the caption, “Woohoo. Off to London”. There is nothing in the gate area to suggest that photographs are prohibited at the Gate 11 area.

Shortly after this, the second girl informed me that the manager didn’t want to let me on the flight because of “the comments I put on social media.” While there is some debate about @easyjet monitoring social media for complaints, I have come to the conclusion that the girl informed her manager of my previously stated intention, although there is plausibility that the social media team monitored the tweet, or were informed of it. I can’t come to that conclusion on its own.

The rest has been well reported. I was pulled out of the queue. One thing that hasn’t been reported, is that the second girl asked to see the tweet and told me not to delete it. I complied in letting her see the tweet and informed her I didn’t plan on deleting it.

I am also conscious of the fact that this has been framed in the concept of free speech. It is easier to conceptualize for most people than Regulation (EC) 261/2004. My last comment to the manager was “what about Free speech?”, not EasyJet’s articles. I didn’t have them to hand, and I imagine most other travellers wouldn’t either.

There has been much speculation that I was disruptive in some way. I would be hard-pressed to imagine anyone thinking I was disruptive. I have asked EasyJet to locate and view the CCTV as part of their investigation.

During my subsequent meeting the next morning, the tweets went viral. I had no less than 20 requests for interviews from media organizations. However, when I got back to Glasgow later on that day, I was informed EasyJet had been briefing reporters “off the record” that I had been disruptive. I was also informed that EasyJet had briefed that I had taken pictures of staff members and threatened to upload them online. I phoned the Head of Customers Service that had phoned me on behalf of EasyJet earlier Wednesday.

I informed her of the claims by journalists and she said she knew nothing about this, and she would speak to the PR department. My belief is that EasyJet went silent in response to the fact that I had informed the customer service manager that PR department may have been making borderline defamatory comments to journalists up and down the country “off the record”. I subsequently went “quiet” to let EasyJet get on with their investigation.

Ultimately, I think the whole incident should raise a few alarm bells for businesses about how easy it is for criticism for go viral. If marketing departments are looking for the answer to what makes advertisements viral, maybe they will be an equal amount spent on “viral vulnerability”?

I consider myself a passive member of the TechDirt Community and take umbrage at the suggestions that I was an “An elitist academic who feels entitled to hassle the serfs.”. There was never any hassling. Of any kind.

This is the last time I plan on commenting on the incident, although there is a pending story I am working for the Drum on what it’s like being inside a viral story.

Thank you to the TechDirt community for letting me clear a few issues raised on this chain.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: This is Mark Leiser. AMA

Thanks for commenting Mark, it’s always nice to get some first hand information as otherwise all we can do is speculate on the reported information.

I don’t think it’s any surprise to anyone who frequents this site that such criticism can go viral. But, I’m still of the mind that Easyjet’s response had nothing to do with monitoring of the tweet (though I fail to see why reaction to a public message directly addressing them would be a major problem). Without a proper response from them, we’re just left with assumptions, and I’m happy to defer to your account of the experience. Easyjet are far from the worst airline to fly with, but I know they can sometimes be lacking.

Oh, and don’t worry about the “elitist academic” comment – that came from a known troll and regular idiot who infests every story on this site with ignorant and deliberately inflammatory comments. Note the way it’s worded – he was trying to indirectly attack readers and the owner of this site, not you directly.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to write your response and good luck with any future endeavours.

Andrew Heenan (profile) says:

But Let's Not Forget ...

… That the guy is a jerk.

Sure, EasyJet handled it badly.

They should have politley but firmly refused him a flight and marked him up to be banned forever. As was their perfect right.

Everyone’s whining about his rights – what about my right not to have a plabne with him. Ever?

Fire away; I’ve made my point, and had worse in Twitter.

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