As usual I have to chime in on this one! My comments are in italics and this is stupidity on the passengers part and I am surprised that other passengers didn't get upset or assist the crew during this incident. (as it's been reported so far)
So here we go, a passenger cause a flight to be delayed and eventually returns to the gate! I guess his cellular phone conversation or texting was more important that the passengers on the flight getting to where they were going to. People feel the need to be privileged when they do things without the concerns of others and then have the nerve to get upset when someone calls them out on it!
Well this passenger may catch hell on the backside from the airline for causing the Captain to turn the airplane around after pushing away from the gate and then returning to the gate when he would not comply with the flight crews request to turn off his electronic device! (It's in the announcements) I don't feel bad for him in the least bit and it sounds like the airline may try to prosecutor him in some fashion even though the FAA who mandates the use after a certain point on all airline aircraft doesn't plan to prosecute or really investigate the incident!
This sounds weird to me because this could be viewed as obstructing a crew from performing their safety duties and that is a federal offense. We shall see what happens on this one! If it wasn't for the tremendous amount of bad PR AirTran would get for suing him, I'd be inclined to sue him for the costs of the flight delay - fuel, crew times, missed connections (if any), etc. Not that I'd expect him to ever be able to pay those costs, but it might be enough to scare people into complying more with crew member instructions!
People please remember the crew members are only doing what they are required to do and if you can't comply with that and allow the crew to make sure that you have a safe flight then you should really rethink you mode of travel!!!
Here is the story as reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Remember to be "Proactive and Not Reactive" and enjoy your flight!!!
An AirTran passenger, who was traveling with 12 others, was using his cell phone before takeoff, an airline spokesman said.
It’s unclear whether he was talking on the phone, snapping photos or texting, AirTran spokesman Christopher White said. But to airline officials and flight attendants, it didn’t matter. The plane had pulled away from the gate, and the phone was on, White said.
“Passengers are required to follow instructions of the flight attendants," regional FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said.
AirTran reported the incident to the FAA, Bergen said.
The federal Transportation Security Administration will not handle the incident, saying it is a customer-service issue between the passenger and the airline, a TSA spokesman said.
Houston-bound Flight 297 was scheduled to leave Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport at 4:40 p.m. Tuesday.
The Boeing 717 was taxiing on the runway when a crew member asked a passenger to turn off his phone, White said.
“Flight attendants were telling him, ‘Turn off the phone, turn off the phone,’” White said.
But the man didn’t speak English, which complicated the matter, officials said.
Once the pilot learned of the issue, he turned the plane around and headed back to the gate. The man was asked to leave, White said.
“We can’t taxi with the cell phone on, and we certainly can’t take off,” White said. “Language barrier or not, you start to butt up against interfering with a flight crew.”
Another person in the group – someone who could speak English – got off as well to act as an interpreter, White said.
So, why didn’t he leave his seat to help in the first place?
“He told flight attendants that he could have helped during the taxi time, but he didn’t want to get up,” as passengers are to be seated at that time, White said.
The remaining 11 passengers in that group followed them off the plane as well, White said.
“It’s a fine line that we have to play,” White said. “Is there any safety or security reason to bring the plane back? Yes, there was a safety reason.”
AirTran gave the 72 other passengers on the plane the option to stay on that flight or switch to another one without paying any fees, White said. Of the remaining passengers on the plane, 12 decided to take another flight.
The 11 others in the 13-passenger group got back on the plane, which took off for Houston, White said. TSA officials spoke to the man with the cell phone as well as the other person who was acting as an interpreter, and they took a later flight to Houston, White said.
White declined to identify the passenger. No charges were filed. And, for AirTran, the case is closed.
“Once we determine there is no other problem, it’s our responsibility to get everyone back on and get the plane taken off as quickly as we can,” White said.