‘I’m humiliated’: Hearing impaired passenger thrown off Delta flight after mask misunderstanding

Helen Coffey
·3-min read
Passenger is asking for Delta Airlines to issue a public apology  (iStock)
Passenger is asking for Delta Airlines to issue a public apology (iStock)

A hearing impaired passenger said he was completely “humiliated” after being kicked off a Delta flight following a misunderstanding involving his mask.

Andre Hilton, an interior designer from Atlanta, had boarded flight 136 from Detroit to Atlanta last month when he was approached by a member of cabin crew.

“I’ve just been highly disrespected by a flight attendant by the name of Sam,” he said on a video he posted on social media while still on the aircraft.

“He came up to me because my mask had slipped down below my nose. He walks up to me and says, ‘this is my second time telling you to pull your mask up; if I have to tell you one more time, I’m throwing you off the plane’.

“I didn’t hear anything of him telling me the first time.”

Mr Hilton, who wears hearing aids in both ears, claimed he hadn’t heard the first warning and had pulled up his mask when he noticed it had slipped down.

“It was an accident,” he said.

However, Mr Hilton claims the flight attendant kept pointing his fingers in his face and talking to him in a “disrespectful” manner.

“He’s talking to me like I’m a child and he’s raising his voice at me – everybody who’s around me heard it,” he said. “I’m just stunned, Delta Airlines. I’m very stunned, I’m very embarrassed, I’m very upset.”

The incident escalated further when Mr Hilton asked for the flight attendant’s last name so that he could make a formal complaint.

He tweeted: “I asked for his name to file a complaint and he called me a PROBLEM and had me put off the plane! Unbelievable.”

After being removed from the aircraft, Mr Hilton was moved to a later flight.

“I’ve never been so humiliated in my life,” he said of the experience.

In response to his tweets and complaints, he received a call from Delta’s CEO’s office, a private apology and a refund. However, he was also asked to remove his videos from social media.

Mr Hilton has now engaged a lawyer, Jonathan Johnson, with the aim of getting the airline to issue a public apology, plus assurances that Delta will review how employees communicate with passengers who have disabilities.

“I would like to see justice happen,” Mr Hilton told local news station WSB-TV2. “I would like to see Delta take full accountability for this situation.”

A Delta spokesperson said: ”As part of our many apologies and exchanges with this customer about his very atypical experience last month, we fully refunded his airfare in addition to other gestures of goodwill. Our teams continue to be in touch with his attorney.

“Our deep-seated values of diversity and inclusion of all groups in the world we serve extend especially to our customers with disabilities, as evidenced by Delta’s Advisory Board on Disability. In place for more than a decade, this Delta board consists of individuals with unique insight as both Delta frequent flyers and who each are experts on a variety of disabilities. This group continues to advise Delta on how we can continue to provide thoughtful and safe service to customers with disabilities.”

The Independent has contacted Delta for further comment.

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