Another in a recent series of incidents involving passengers and airlines occurred on April 18, when Delta Airlines told a man he had to exit the plane because he used the bathroom while the lane was waiting on the runway, third in line to take off.
Kima Hamilton, a 39-year-old self-proclaimed “DJ and poet” was sitting on Delta Airlines Flight 2035 from Atlanta to Milwaukee while the plane waited on the tarmac for roughly 30 minutes. Hamilton, who had not used the bathroom before the flight, needed to urinate. First he walked to the back of the plane, then asked a flight attendant if he could use the bathroom, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
The attendant said no, informing Hamilton the plane would lose its place in line. Hamilton returned to his seat, but then returned to the bathroom and urinated. He told the Sentinel, “We weren't taking off. We were still. The plane isn't moving.”
When asked whether he had used a bathroom before the flight, Hamilton answered, "I don't normally pee right before I get on the plane, and I've never had a problem like this before. I don't remember drinking an abnormal amount of water.”
Hamilton claimed that when he returned to his seat, the pilot announced over the intercom, “Ladies and gentlemen, I'm sorry for the inconvenience but we have to return to the gate and remove a passenger.” Hamilton added, “It escalated to that point that fast.”
Meanwhile, Krista Rosolino and her husband, Mike, both attorneys who attended the Women’s March, were sitting across the aisle from Hamilton with their infant daughter.
Krista Rosolino took videos of what happened next: Hamilton spoke to an apparent airline official, saying, “Can you help me understand why… I need more information, I haven't done anything.” The official responded, “We'll discuss this outside, not here. Come with me please. We're not going to discuss this here.”
Hamilton: “I'm not really clear… I purchased this ticket, I had an emergency and needed to pee, I tried to hold it the first time and I absolutely couldn't, and now I'm being kicked off the plane? I haven't done anything hostile.”
After a roughly three-minute conversation, the official left. Hamilton said, “I have done nothing.”
Another apparent official had a reasonable conversation with Hamilton, as Hamilton explained he needed to get to Milwaukee to help run a field trip with “94 sixth graders.” The official said:
Let me just explain, basically any time we are about to take off – for your safety, and for everyone's safety – we need you seated, that's the bottom line. I understand you had an emergency and I'm glad you were able to take care of that, however, there's always protocol. Because you were the person, I'm not saying who caused the flight to lose its place in line, that's why we need to talk to you about it. This is not one of those scenarios where we are going to force you off the plane or anything, but because we are inconveniencing everyone right now, that's why someone came to ask you to leave, and I need you to follow me up to the front desk, that's all.
Hamilton replied, “You're kicking me off the plane, I need you to be direct with that language, because this whole ‘let's get off and talk’ thing isn't true.”
The official said, “I'm trying to be 100 per cent, I'm saying because we had to move the plane out of rotation and we need to head back to the gate, we need to see what the reason is… more people are involved than just us right now.”
Hamilton: “I don't understand why I have to get off this plane though, I mean, I had to use the restroom?”
Official: “We're not kicking you off, we need to remove you because we need to discuss this further.I'm just trying to help you man, so if you can follow me, get your things and whatever, then we can get you rebooked.”
Everyone had to leave the plane.
Hamilton told the Journal-Sentinel he was feeling the micro-aggression he experiences as a 6-foot-3-inch black man with dreadlocks.
Krista Rosolino posted an open letter to Delta online reading:
I observed the most outrageous treatment of a paying customer that I have seen in my two decades of flying. I trust that you will investigate this matter and see that similar situations are handled better in the future. Not only did your staff truly harm and humiliate one person who was forced to pay hundreds of dollars for a new same-day flight, but you forced the rest of us passengers to endure a two hour saga of watching a man being targeted for having a bathroom emergency. I am disappointed and horrified at how Delta Airlines staff treated their customers/passengers.
Delta, what was the nice gentleman supposed to do? Here are the options as I see it: 1) Urinate in his seat. This would be unpleasant for him, everyone around him, and the airline staff member who has to clean it up. 2) Urinate in a vomit bag or some type of device he could have possibly found. Again, same issue with being uncomfortable for him, those around him, and anyone cleaning up later. Or 3) Do what he did—wait as long as humanly (remember, we are humans?) possible, and then go to the bathroom as quickly as possible. Yes, he may have broken the rules... however, the situation was resolved in the 1 minute he was out of his seat. I don’t believe the plane moved an inch during that time. Why did Delta have to continue this saga by returning to the gate to remove him? What about him made you want to remove him from the plane?
Delta released a statement reading, “Our flight crews are extensively trained to ensure the safety and security of all customers. It is imperative that passengers comply with crew instructions during all phases of flight, especially at the critical points of takeoff and landing.”
Delta refunded part of Hamilton’s ticket cost; he bought a walk-up ticket on a Southwest Airlines flight to return home.