Al D'Amato may not be a United States senator anymore, but he can still give a fiery speech to rouse people (or in this particular case, the passengers of an airplane) into taking action — even if it backfires spectacularly.
The former senator was aboard New York-bound JetBlue flight that was supposed to depart from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport at 1:40 p.m. However, due to several delays, the plane wasn’t ready to take-off until 8 p.m.
Once the passengers boarded the aircraft, the pilot asked 10 of them to move from the front to the back of the plane to ease weight distribution. As the CNN reports, six passengers refused to move and the next thing the passengers knew, D’Amato was standing in the aisle, urging everyone to walkout with him.
“I saw Al D’Amato go to the back, to one of the last rows,” said passenger Jeffrey A. Wurst. “People spotted him and asked to take pictures. The captain then asked for more people to move. D’Amato gets up and starts shouting.”
The scene, caught on camera and posted online by a passenger named Jacqueline Galante, showed the former New York senator rallying people against the crew.
“We can still speak in this country,” D’Amato said in the video. “I am making an appeal to all you people. Stand up for what’s right and walk out with me. If you don't, then what do you stand up for?”
At least one identified person stood up and agreed to leave the plane with the 79-year-old.
Eventually, an officer from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office escorted D’Amato from the flight.
“I’m getting thrown out because I stood up and said to the captain, ‘Why don’t you do what you’re supposed to do?’” D’Amato said. “If you’re supposed to move two or three people, move them. And so he got annoyed at that, and I’m getting thrown out.”
Another passenger, Layla Delarmelina, said the episode started after the Republican stood up to talk to people who weren’t moving their seats because the captain wasn’t doing anything.
“He called them idiots and said, ‘The captain needs to grow some balls,’” she told CNN. “So they kicked him off the plane.”
No further action was taken against the ex-senator.
“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,” JetBlue said in a statement.
Meanwhile, D’Amato’s spokesperson Gary Lewi said the former senator was in Florida “to visit an ailing friend” and was frustrated and sleep deprived.
“Anyone who knows Sen. D’Amato knows he speaks his mind,” Lewi said in a statement. “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.”
Watch the video of the senator’s in-flight speech in video above.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters