What to Know
- Former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato was kicked off a JetBlue flight Monday evening after a lengthy delay led to an outburst
- A video posted to Facebook shows a clearly agitated D'Amato urging fellow passengers to get off with him
- A spokesman said D'Amato had apologized for his outburst and JetBlue apologized for its reaction
Former New York Sen. Alfonse D'Amato was escorted off a JetBlue flight in Florida after a delay led the Republican to loudly protest.
"This is Broward County Sheriffs office escorting former Senator Alfonse D'Amato off the plane for complaining about the delay and asking for fellow passengers to please move to back of plane so we can fly," a Facebook user named Jacqueline Galante posted to her page Monday afternoon.
The video shows a clearly agitated D'Amato being escorted off the plane by law enforcement, as he yells at fellow passengers to join him.
"We can still speak in this country and what they're doing to me ... I make an appeal to all you people. You wana know why? Stand up for what's right and walk out with me!" D'Amato said.
One passenger did end up walking out with him, video shows.
Another passenger told NBC 4 New York that D'Amato grew angry after the captain said some people would have to change seats due to weight distribution problems, but only a few agreed to move, further delaying an already postponed take-off.
In an interview later with NY1, D'Amato said he went straight to the captain to try to move things along after an exhausting weekend in which he went to visit a "critically ill" friend on very little sleep.
"I went to see him, came back, was gonna get on a 1:30 plane back to New York," said D'Amato. "This was yesterday, and of course, the plane didn't take off, was delayed for more than six hours, then delayed on the runway with this nonsense. That's why I said to him, 'Captain, you know. Look.' You know."
The senator said fellow passengers were "very supportive." In addition to the man who walked out with him, "there were four or five others who got up to leave, but then the crew said, 'Sit down, because we're ready to take off,'" said D'Amato. "So what are they gonna do, they're gonna leave?"
The sheriff's office referred calls to the airline. JetBlue, in a statement, confirmed that a passenger was removed from flight 1002, which was scheduled to travel from Ft. Lauderdale to New York.
"If a customer is causing a conflict on the aircraft, it is standard procedure to ask the customer to deplane, especially if the crew feels the situation runs a risk of escalation in-flight," the airline said.
Data from flight tracking website FlightAware showed that the plane ultimately left Ft. Lauderdale more than six hours behind schedule.
A spokesman for D'Amato said in a statement earlier Tuesday, "JetBlue has apologized to the Senator for overreacting and the Senator apologized for speaking his mind at a time when he clearly had left his patience at the gate."
D'Amato, 79, served three terms in the U.S. Senate from 1981 to 1999.