Travelers and airline crews often become frustrated when facing major delays, especially when confined to cramped areas and lacking information about their travel plans. The horrendous weather in the east coast known as the “bomb cyclone,” has caused excessive travel delays across airports, however, one airline failed to properly enforce airport policies and made a ridiculous personal demand of customers at the expense of their “charter rights.” In fact, the passengers were threatened with arrest if they didn’t comply.
Passengers were forced to erase images and videos they recorded of the incident. That’s right.
To the horror of future travelers using Porter Airlines, or those flying out of Boston, or anywhere in Massachusetts, no higher up legal action has been taken to sanction the travel company. Democratic Governor Charlie Baker of the Massachusetts Port Authority has remained silent about the incident which ruined the travels and weekend of Porter passengers.
The Porter Airlines flight was scheduled to take passengers from Boston Logan International Airport to Toronto, Canada on Friday evening. It made it as far as the airport runway when the crew was instructed to wait for a mechanical delay to be repaired before the flight could take off. Passengers waited in the plane for two hours, however the repair could not be made in a timely manner which are “regulated duty day limits.” Flight attendants on the aircraft did not, however, explain this to its customers, but instead joked that if they left after 10 P.M. they would “turn into pumpkins.”
The airline took the already disgruntled passengers back to the gate to determine what the next plan was in getting to their Canadian destination. Though passengers did not receive clear answers as they expected upon arriving back at the terminal, as the intercom system was down, preventing the flight crew from making a general announcement. Instead, passengers were instructed to line up once more to meet with flight attendants individually to learn what was going on.
Tensions were running extremely high at this point, with passengers simply demanding answers so that they could make alternative arrangements. To ensure that they did not miss any important information provided by the crew, many passengers began to use cell phone cameras to record the latest information and instructions provided by Porter Airline staff.
While completely within their right to do so, the flight crew, led by one male employee who was positive in his understanding of airport policies, told passengers that airport rules prohibited them from recording the instructions and what guests reported later as “poor customer service.”
Airline staff demanded that the angry passengers cease recording, threatening to have them arrested if they refused. The staff took their defensive behavior further when they went around to the passengers who had been recording and harassed them until they could prove that all video footage had been deleted, even looking in discard folders.
The airline insisted that video recording was prohibited entirely, though officials later reported that this is false. The Massachusetts Port Authority released a statement explaining the only areas in Logan Airport where recording is prohibited are “secure areas and of all security procedures.”
This policy could also apply to certain situations on an airplane when staff determines for reasons of “safety or comfort” that filming is not appropriate and may requests that passengers discontinue doing so. However, the rule does not apply anywhere else in airport terminals under normal circumstances. Though the employee made a major mistake, the Port Authority has reportedly only discussed the issue with the staff member but has not removed him from his position.
Porter Airlines, on behalf of spokesperson Brad Cicero, has apologized for the delay and the way that the staff handled it, reporting that the misunderstanding of airport policies has been addressed on their end and will not happen again. The airline provided lodging for passengers who were now stuck in Boston, as well as “some meal costs.” While weather conditions sometimes warrant an airline to assist passengers by means of lodging or food during a delay, Porter Airlines made it sound like they were doing passengers a favor, saying that they normally just “help find reduced rates.”
It was not determined if the initial delay on Friday which led to the passengers being required to remain in Boston for three days was weather-related. A “latch door to the luggage compartment” had gotten stuck, though the airline insisted it had been frozen shut. Due to the weather which was already causing delays, Porter was able to use the excuse to avoid providing compensation in the form of cash, refund, or credit.
The airline did not offer anything in response to the threats made by staff.
The overall stress of the experience was reason for many passengers to plan to take legal action to receive compensation for the delay and harassment at Porter Airline’s fault. They may be the only ones; so far, the airport, the Port Authority, nor the governor appear to be holding the airline or the staff members responsible for their unprofessional conduct.