Woman removed from airplane today

I am in-flight from Portland to Chicago for a client meeting, through Seattle.  On the Alaska shuttle from Portland to Seattle, the airplane doors closed and the flight attendant made the announcement that all electronic devices had to be shut down and stowed.  As usual there were a handful of people still using their phones and flight attendants asking them to shut down as the attendants did their safety walk throughs.  We were still parked at the gate when the attendent specifically asked the woman about 2 rows behind me – at least for the second time – to shut her phone down.  Her response was rude and snotty, but she did not curse, threaten, or demean him.

The attendant then walked up to the phone outside the cockpit and made a call.  As soon as he hung up, he and the pilots went through the procedure where the cockpit doors open.  A bunch of us knew what was next.  He gets on the phone again and we can start seeing Alaska / airport people come near the plane.  Then the ramp shows up (we are on the Horizon Shuttle flights) and the airplane doors open.  Two Alaska employees come on board and ask the woman to come with them off of the plane.  They told her she needs to get off the plane because she did not comply with the flight attendant’s instructions to turn off her phone after the door had closed.  She seemed in disbelief at first, and then pleaded that she has a connecting flight in Seattle that she is going to miss.  The employee then stated that if she did not follow her off the plane right now, the Police will come and get her.  The woman complied.

While at first this sounds like a, “Finally – an idiot with a cell phone was removed from the plane and got what she deserved” kind of story – it was not that way.  Technically she broke the rules, but she did not do enough to warrant removal from the plane.  The inconvenience it caused the other passengers – some with very tight connections in Seattle — did not warrant this attendant’s response.

So what should have the attendant done?  After watching him interact and do his job both before and after this incident, it was clear he is a confident, secure person who can take this kind of conversation.  I was disappointed that he did not turn to the woman and ask her not to talk to him in this way – and wait for her response before his next actions.

What are your thoughts?

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