Former New York Sen. Al D'Amato booted from plane in Florida

Former New York Sen. Al D'Amato booted from plane in Florida
Source: AP
Source: AP

He's no longer in the U.S. Senate, but Al D'Amato still knows how to make a speech.

The former lawmaker got escorted off a plane Monday night in Florida, as shown in several social media videos, apparently after complaining about a pre-takeoff delay. 

"This is Broward County Sheriff's Office escorting former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato off the plane for complaining about the delay and asking for fellow passengers to please move to back of plane so we can fly," wrote passenger Jacqueline Galante, who posted the video Monday night to Facebook

"This is real and this is happening now!!!!"

The clip shows an obviously ticked-off D'Amato in the aisle, encouraging others on the flight to join him in a walkout. 

"We can still speak in this country," D'Amato, now a political consultant, says in the video. "And what you're doing to me — and I want to tell you this: I'm making an appeal to all you people. You want to know what? Stand up for what's right and walk out with me. That's the only thing they'll know.

"Stand up and walk out. Here's a gentleman who's doing it. Stand up and walk out. If you don't, then what do you stand up for? Come on."

Amid the hubbub, a flight attendant is heard over the public address system announcing, "Ladies and gentlemen, we'll be ready to go once everyone's in their seat with their seat belt fastened."

The delay, annoying as it may have been, was a veritable blip in time compared to D'Amato's famous 15-hour, 14-minute filibuster in the Senate in 1992 and an even longer one that preceded it in 1986.

A separate video clip posted to Twitter shows a bit of the earlier action, with D'Amato getting props from others on the plane as he's escorted away. 

"How is this OK in any way? I don't understand," a woman's voice is heard saying. "This is not right at all."

Another voice chimes in: "Do we still live in America?"

According to a bio on the website for his consulting firm, Park Strategies, D'Amato "had a distinguished 18-year career in the U.S. Senate, served as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, was a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee — specializing in defense and transportation issues — and served on the Senate Finance Committee."

A spokesman for D'Amato, dubbed "Senator Pothole" for his attention to the workaday concerns of his constituents, said an a statement Tuesday afternoon that the ex-lawmaker and the airline had worked things out:

"Anyone who knows Senator D'Amato knows he speaks his mind – but in this case he spoke after a long and demanding trip to Florida to visit an ailing friend, a five hour airport ground delay, additional delays as the crew sought to deal with weight and balance issues and then sleep deprivation," spokesman Gary Lewi emailed Mic

"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."

A D'Amato spokesman says the former lawmaker has a history of speaking his mind.
Source: 
Travis HEYING/Getty Images

Separately, JetBlue spokesman Morgan Johnston emailed in response to a request for information on the dustup: "Out of respect for our customers' privacy, we don't share customer details, but I can confirm that a customer was removed from Flight 1002."

Johnston added, "The decision to remove a customer from a flight is not taken lightly. 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."

12:04 p.m.: This story has been updated.

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Celeste Katz

Celeste Katz is senior political correspondent at Mic, covering national politics. She is based in New York and can be reached at celeste@mic.com.

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