British Airways Kicks Off Two Passengers On Remote Military Airbase After On Board Dispute Over Self Upgrade

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British Airways has upped the ante in the most recent Airline vs. Passenger challenge when they kicked off two passengers after an argument ensued when a man tried to self upgrade to Business Class.

The flight was en route from London to Jamaica and stopped on the remote island of Terceira in the Azores (Portugal) where the passengers remain until now.

The situation escalated when one passenger started to move himself to Business Class one hour into the flight while complaining about health issues. It has meanwhile been reported that the man suffers from cancer and diabetes even though none of these factors are an excuse for what happened here.

A woman who was not traveling with the man was also kicked off the flight after it landed at Lajes Field in the Azores after she objected to the rough treatment of the passenger by the cabin crew.

The Daily Mail (access here) had some rather sensational reports about this.

Kwame Bantu, 65, was an hour into the 14-hour flight to visit family in Jamaica when he began to feel dizzy and saw his leg swelling. He then tried to move into business class, where he says he was ‘ambushed’ by six members of staff who tied him up by his hands and feet before allegedly dragging him back to his seat in economy.

Footage obtained by MailOnline shows uniformed police surrounding him after the plane diverted course and landed on the Portuguese island of Terceira. …

It was initially reported that Mr Bantu, who is still stranded on the remote island of Terceira, was kicked off the jet for refusing to leave the business class section.

‘I was just trying to get some room to stretch my leg,’ he told MailOnline. ‘But nobody was helping me. They refused to listen about my medical illness and what I was going through. I was treated like a slave.’

The new footage also features Joy Stoney, a businesswoman from Yorkshire who was thrown off the flight alongside Mr Bantu after trying to help him. A hysterical Ms Stoney can be heard screaming: ‘I didn’t touch his straps.’

The entrepreneur, who was wrongly reported as being Mr Bantu’s partner, told MailOnline how stewards told him to ‘defecate in his seat’ when he told them he needed the toilet.

British Airways told MailOnline that Mr Bantu refused to move from business class and verbally abused crew, so they ‘helped him walk back to his original seat’.

Neither of the passengers know where their baggage is or how they are to get home.

Despite the fact that London to Kingston a 9:45h flight and not 14 hours as described in the article this entire situation makes very little sense.

The Aircraft has also returned to London-Gatwick after they dropped off the two passengers, inconveniencing hundreds of people and bringing a huge financial burden upon themselves, only for the sake of showing a self-upgrader who is boss?

A passenger has to remain in his ticketed cabin and isn’t free to move to other sections of the plane unless the inflight manager decides that it is appropriate. This could also include moving a passenger for medical reasons but this usually happens after a doctor on board is consulted, not because a passenger says he needs to stretch out his legs.

If this situation occurred one hour into the flight why did it take the crew that long to decide to stop and offload the passenger? Furthermore, is excessive violence and degrading behavior from the crew really warranted in such situations? Especially when other passengers already feel the need to object.

Here is a scene of the police coming on board to take the man off the flight at Lajes field.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWlS5AYGq2g

Let’s have a look at the movements of the flight via Flightaware to get a feel for the geographic of where the Azores are which is where the passengers were eventually dumped by BA.

The flight was 5:15h in the air before landing at Terceira. If the initial incident took place 1 hour into the flight what happened during the remaining 4 hours? Why not return to the UK, Ireland, Spain or Mainland Portugal? Not sure if dumping passengers on a remote island is really the way to go here.

British Airways has made headlines before for excessive actions against passengers they accused to be violent, drunk or disobedient such as the woman who received a lifetime ban on her way to Dubai (we wrote about it here last year).

Is British Airways having an issue with misjudging and properly deescalating situations like these? Telling a passenger to defecate in his seat in an occupied passenger cabin is certainly not a sensible response from a crew member and provides ample group to rile up other passengers as well. If a crew member would tell a passenger next to me to take a dump on his seat I’d go bananas for sure, this much I can tell you.

Conclusion

This is a very odd situation and the inconclusive accounts as far as the time is concerned isn’t helping to clear the matter up. I wonder if there are more videos shot by other passengers will come out to shine more light on this.

The passenger was clearly at fault by moving into a cabin he wasn’t ticketed in but there are other ways to solve this than to escalate the situation into a dangerous confrontation. British Airways has all the data necessary to send the passenger a bill for the fare difference back home. Lufthansa for example is known for resorting to this measure which is certainly more effective than engaging in a fight with a passenger and diverting the flight.

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  • trakulis

    Conclusion is not correct. Airline cannot grab money from the passenger card without passenger accept. BA was acted correctly in this case.

    • Sergey Fedorov

      They could inform the passenger that if he stays in business class, he is going to be charged the fare difference. Then if he does stay, he thus accepts the offer.

      • Attention All Passengers

        Easier said than done. Can you imagine all the tail-chasing trying to find this guy (probably never going back to the U.K.), or he just decides he is not going to pay the bill. Some people don’t care if they go to collection.

  • Behave Yourself

    It was alleged the passenger was told to defecate in his seat, by someone who was not a bystander in this saga, which is definitely not the same thing as a proven fact. Both sides will tell the situation in a light that favours them, and may not be truthful, so it’s important when commenting to reflect that – the actual truth is contested.

    What is undisputed is that the guy in question considered it was his entitlement to move to a better seat, regardless of his ticket, and without the permission of cabin crew. When he was asked to return to his seat, he repeatedly refused to do so, citing his “ill health”. Under the circumstances outlined, he was not entitled to refuse to follow the reasonable directions of the aircrew, and he was restrained and removed.

    You can argue proportionality in response, but an airplane is a highly controlled environment, and an aircraft captain has the right to disembark any passenger at any airport, that he or she deems an unreasonable risk (remember the cabin crew don’t have the authority for this decision, only the aircraft captain in charge).

    I know I am sick and tired of disruptive passengers when flying, those who get off their face and hassle and disrupt what is a communal space because they don’t think they should moderate their behaviour. Qatar, for example on a recent flight, sought to stop alcohol service to a drunk passenger on one of my recent flights, but eventually gave up, especially when he just went to help himself in the galley, and this was just the absolute worst. He continued to be disruptive, and at risk of harming himself throughout the flight, because the aircrew didn’t want to risk trying to deal with the situation.

    If you can’t behave yourself when flying, I think aircrew have every right to contain you, to ensure the safety of you and others, and to offload you for the nearest police force to do with. You can’t just do whatever you damn well feel like on an aircraft, and then demand you be treated with upmost respect – it’s a two way street. I certainly support airlines containing anti-social behaviour sharpish (you get a formal warning, and if that doesn’t stop it, reasonable restraint/containment – the United dragging incident vs this sort of unacceptable behaviour are two very seperate things)

  • Denis D

    Can barely see what BA did wrong here. I’m really sorry the man suffers from cancer, though is that a reason for a self upgrade? I don’t think so.

    I don’t believe crew members just started to verbally insult him with no point. I’m 99.5% sure they first politely asked him to move back to his seat and he a) refused and b) was aggressive (otherwise they wouldn’t constrain him).

    The “slave” and “human rights had been taken away” cards were thrown in. Here we go. Now I’m 100% sure the man is clearly aimed on “undisclosed settlement” here.

    • Jeff Warren

      I hope the next time your on BA all the passenger’s around you defecate in their seats.

      • ugh

        Boo, he could have just gone to the bathroom. Also, please learn the difference between a possessive and a plural. How people like you think you are entitled to get something that you didn’t pay for, really baffles me. It’s obvious he was full of crap and just wants money.

  • Paya

    Are you joking? Terceira is an island, but is not a remote island. It is more or less like one of Hawaiian islands (other than Oahu). It has frequent scheduled commercial flights to Boston, Toronto, San Fransisco (Oakland), Lisbon, Amsterdam, and other cities. So it’s not like passenger is left in the middle of nowhere. The can easily book to whatever destination in the world from Terceira.

    • Rohan Relaxo

      Its still Remote you dimwit…just like Hawaii. Remoteness & connectivity are not the same thing.

      • Lao Tzu

        The implication is, it is not difficult to get back to civilisation from that remote island. From what I understood about the island, seems a cool vacation spot.

      • Paya

        If a blogger posts that “an airline kicked off a passenger in a remote island in the middle of the Pacific” and that remote island in the middle of Pacific proves to be Hawaii, then the blogger post is ridiculous.
        It seems that you don’t get it, no problem, be the dimwit that you are.

  • Ron

    BA acted entirely correctly here. If a passenger does not comply with the directions or orders of a flight crew in the US, it is a federal offence. I don’t believe BA flight crew would tell any passenger to defecate in his seat no matter the provocation or behavior. Reporting unsubstantiated claims is very poor and biased reporting.

  • Flyboy

    Dumping a passenger mid way and on a military airfield shouldn’t be the way it is… although BA could have just let the passenger sit through in Business Class but should have 1) Held on to his passport until he pays the fare difference, 2) Held him upon arrival and have him arrested, 3) All of the above. This would therefore have saved the other passengers’ ordeals too.