What to Know
- Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is getting involved in a case of alleged racial discrimination on a JetBlue Thanksgiving flight
- Shaun Lynda says his plan to make it home for Thanksgiving was interrupted because he got kicked off flight from Barbados
- JetBlue says the decision to remove Lynda was not based on race. They say he did not want to pay for an upgraded seat.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is getting involved in a case of alleged racial discrimination on a JetBlue Thanksgiving flight.
The man accusing JetBlue says he was just trying to get back home to New York for Thanksgiving dinner after visiting family in Barbados when a flight attendant made him feel like a dog.
Shaun Lynda says his plan was interrupted because he got kicked off the flight in what he says is a case of racial discrimination.
Phone video captured by Lynda starts after he was asked to leave the JetBlue flight from Barbados to JFK Airport last week. In portions of the video, Lynda asks other passengers if he did anything he wrong. One woman replies with, "No, you didn't do anything wrong."
He says the incident began with a delay after a family rearranged their seats. He questioned why it took so long and why the family was then rewarded with seats up front. He was then also offered a seat up front but things turned tense, he says, when another flight attendant intervened and insisted he had to head back to his original seat.
He says he complied, but then the flight attendant, described as a Hispanic woman, allegedly did something unexpected.
“She knelt down on one knee and started patting my leg and said, ‘Are you going to behave yourself?’” Lynda said during a press conference also attended by Adams. “I said to her, ‘Why would you ask me that question?’ I said, ‘I’m an educated man. Why would I not behave?’”
Minutes later, police were called and escorted Lynda off the flight. Brooklyn borough president says that was discrimination.
“The only way you can resolve a conflict with a black man is that you immediately call the police. I cannot imagine how angry I would have been,” Adams said.
“I felt like it was an invasion of my space,” Lynda said. “I felt like I was belittled. I felt like I was patted like a dog. And I felt like how dare she do something – what if it were the opposite? What if I was the flight attendant and I patted her on her leg. How would that look?”
JetBlue says the decision to remove Lynda was not based on race. They say he did not want to pay for an upgraded seat.
In a statement, JetBlue said in part: “The customer became angry and used inappropriate language with crewmembers, and as the situation risked further escalation in air after takeoff, the crew determined the customer would need to be rebooked on a different flight.”
However, Lynda does not agree with JetBlue’s version of the incident and called its statement a "complete lie."
"There was never any talk of fees, transaction, cost, me not paying or anything of that nature. I was not shouting. I don’t use profanity. I was not cursing in any way,” Lynda said, adding JetBlue’s statement was offensive and confusing because he was rebooked on another flight the next day and was given upgraded seating free of charge.
Lynda also said that the manager at the Barbados airport eventually apologized to him.
Lynda’s attorney says they already filed a complaint with the Department of Transportation and are considering filing a lawsuit.