Delta Air Lines was forced to apologize to a hearing-impaired passenger who was thrown off a flight in a misunderstanding over wearing a face mask.
Andre Hilton, an Atlanta-based interior designer, was flying home from Detroit last month when the incident happened, according to WSB-TV in Atlanta.
It appears to be a misunderstanding gone bad.
Hilton was wearing a mask but it slipped down below his nose. Although he pulled up the mask whenever it happened, he was approached by a flight attendant who yelled at him, pointed his finger in the passenger’s face, and said he was tired of telling Hilton “again” to fix his mask.
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Hilton was confused because he didn’t know there were any previous warnings about the mask, saying he explained to the flight attendant that he would need to talk to Hilton while making eye contact because of his hearing impairment. Hilton said the flight attendant continued to berate him in front of the other passengers.
“I want to wear my mask, just like I want the next person to wear (one),” Hilton told Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr. “I’m embarrassed at this point. I’m humiliated. I’m shocked because, you know, people are sitting around witnessing it.”
Other passengers encouraged him to let the incident go, but Hilton decided to ask the flight attendant for his last name in order to file a complaint. “And he goes, ‘Nope, that’s it. You’re a problem, I knew you were going to be a problem. Soon as she stepped on, you got to go, you’re getting off the plane,’ Hilton recalled.
Hilton began recording the incident before the pilot came and asked him to leave the flight. The recordings, which document Hilton reviewing the situation, and the aftermath of the incident, are posted to his Instagram account.
Hilton said he received an apology and his fare was reimbursed, but he wants the airline to issue a public apology and to review its policies for dealing with passengers who have disabilities.
“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,” Delta said in a statement to WSB-TV. “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.”
Delta just added more than 450 names to its no-fly list of passengers who refused to wear masks.
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