A New York City DJ is calling out Delta Air Lines after she and three other passengers were kicked off a flight and stranded in Fort Wayne, Indiana, by an “irrational” and “unprofessional” flight attendant. The woman, Robyn “DJ Reborn” Rodgers, posted about the June 23 incident and shared video from the plane on Wednesday. The flight attendant works for SkyWest Airlines, which was operating as a Delta Connections flight, and Rodgers was a Delta passenger.
According to the Instagram post, the flight attendant, who has not been identified, confronted DJ Reborn before the flight because she wanted to make sure her phone was on airplane mode. During their conversation, the flight attendant threatened to kick her off the plane, she wrote on Instagram.
When other passengers stuck up for her, the flight attendant also told them they could be removed from the flight. Eventually DJ Reborn and four others, including a child, were escorted off the plane by police. It was the last flight out of the Fort Wayne airport that night, so they were stuck there until the morning, according to the Instagram post.
“I want to acknowledge because I am painfully aware of the serious and profoundly heartbreaking injustices/events happening in our world and communities, I have grappled with sharing my experience. It seems small in the face of those things,” Deejay Reborn wrote. “But the micro is important and little things that go unchecked spiral.” She said the incident happened on Delta Flight 4527:
Just before take off the flight attendant rudely told me to put my phone on airplane mode.As I was swiping to it the attendant menacingly stood over me with her arms folded waiting for me to do it. I told her, ‘I know how to turn on airplane mode, you don’t have to stand over me.’ She became agitated and said ‘If you’re gonna act like that we can go back to the gate and you can get off.’ I held up my phone to show her that airplane mode was on. She stormed to the front then came back to my seat and said we were going back to the gate. She then accused me of not turning on airplane mode after being ‘told to do so several times.’
DJ Reborn wrote on Instagram that the flight attendant had only asked her to put the phone on airplane mode once. She wrote, “I then asked her, ‘What can we do to rectify this so that we can all go?’ She said ‘You can comply’ and I repeated that I had and she argued I did not.” According to the Instagram post, another passenger, who DJ Reborn identified as a photographer, Ryan Miller, spoke up to defend her, telling the flight attendant she ” had complied and he witnessed me doing so. She then threatened to kick him off of the flight as well.”
You can watch video of part of the encounter here. You can click the arrow to see other photos and videos:
According to the Instagram post, after Miller stood up for DJ Reborn, a Latina woman two rows ahead, identified as Elena, “politely asked the flight attendant to sit down so that we could fly and the attendant snapped at her.”
The plane then returned to the gate and was met by a police officer. DJ Reborn wrote on Instagram that the flight attendant directed the officer to take her, Miller and Elena off of the plane. They were escorted off along with another man and his son. The entire plane was forced to deboard, but DJ Reborn, the three other passengers and the man’s son were permanently removed from the flight, she wrote.
She wrote they, were “stranded in Indiana with no place to stay as @delta refused to put any of us,including the man with the child,in a hotel. That was the last flight out.” She added, “Elena, the Latina woman who was also ejected was rushing back to Texas because her son was having heart surgery and @delta prevented her from getting home to him.”
DJ Reborn said another passenger and the passenger’s mother gave Elena money to pay for a hotel room because Delta would not pay for it.
“I have filed a formal complaint with @delta but haven’t heard back from them. I requested the attendant’s name but the staff at the airport wouldn’t disclose it,” she wrote on Instagram. “The attendant used the term with me “zero tolerance” which to my knowledge is not an airline term but I have heard it wielded in a certain administration…just an interesting detail.”
It was a traumatic experience and we have all seen videos of Black people, and POC being harmed or killed behind an unnecessary escalation of events instigated by an irrational, petty person. I did NOTHING wrong and having an officer with a gun directed to ‘take me’ is a psychological terror because we don’t always survive that. This abuse of position and disregard for people’s basic humanity by @delta should not be tolerated. Any help identifying this spiteful and unprofessional flight attendant will be appreciated. @delta needs to address this.
Another video posted by DJ Reborn shows her and the others talking to a man and woman who appear to be either Delta or airport employees. The man tells them that the flight attendant, “the flight attendant didn’t feel safe … she felt uncomfortable, unsafe, because you guys, to her, she didn’t feel that you guys were listening to her, she didn’t feel safe.”
The other woman, Elena, can be heard saying to him, “I’m from Texas, where am I going to go?” She also said, “so you throw people on the street? That’s what you do?”
Delta replied DJ Reborn on Twitter, writing, “Please know that Delta does not condone discrimination for any reason and we take your comments very seriously. If you can please DM your record locator and phone number.”
The incident has outraged several people who saw the video on social media, bringing back memories of other incidents where airline employees were accused of abusing their power, including the April 2017 incident where Dr. David Dao was dragged off a United Airlines flight by police and another April 2017 incident where an American Airlines flight attendant was confronted by passengers after yelling at a woman with a stroller.
“I am so sorry you went though this I am so tired of seeing idiots treat people however they feel I hope you get some kinda justice I won’t use Delta at all for this,” Denise Gonzalez wrote on Facebook. Michelle Naval added, ” am so sorry this happened and she was so triggered that she also kicked off the other clients for calling her out. Horrible excuse for an airline and horrible flight attendant. Get her fired, she shouldn’t work in customer service.”
Some accused the flight attendant of “power tripping.”
Sharon Lea wrote on Twitter, “Appalled at how a dispute between a flight attendant, a passenger, and another passenger who tried to bear witness to what happened was handled. Putting people arbitrarily off of planes is draconian and not right. Won’t be flying Delta until this is fixed.”
“This @delta flight attendant reported 5 passengers as “scaring” her. Luckily some of them caught what happened on VIDEO & it clearly shows the attendant is simply enraged, not in fear. Video taken by another passenger confirms the description of what happened on #deltaflight4527. the enraged attendant threatens people who politely speak up to defend the other passenger that they’ll be thrown off for their attitude,’ Dr.Caroline Yezer wrote on Twitter.
“Your company has failed to respond to racial discrimination by your attendant on flight 4527 from Fort Wayne, Indiana,” one Twitter user wrote. “It also is not grounds to kick off other passengers who stand up for the passenger that complied with the directives. If i’m not polite to a flight attendant, is that grounds for being kicked off? This is absolutely an abuse of power. You need to make this right.”
Delta responded to that Twitter user, “Our employees reflect our culture of treating all people with dignity and respect, and if we aren’t doing that, we aren’t doing our job. We’re looking into it now.”
According to WGCL-TV, the flight was being operated by SkyWest Airlines as a Delta Connections flight, and the flight attendant works for that airline. “We take all allegations of discrimination seriously and are reviewing reports from SkyWest flight 4527 operating as Delta Connection. We are disappointed that our customers had this experience and are working with our partner Delta to follow up directly with the customers involved,” the company said in a statement.