“I need more information, sir,” Hamilton said. “I haven’t done anything. I’ve paid for this ticket and I actually have to get home.”
“I’m going to share this with you outside,” the agent replied, waving for him to move. “We’re not going to discuss this right here.”
“I’m not really clear on why I’m being asked to leave the plane. I’ve purchased this ticket. I had an emergency — I had to pee,” Hamilton said. “I tried to hold it the first time. … I absolutely couldn’t. Now I’m being kicked off the plane.”
“You’re not being kicked off,” the agent said. “I need to talk to you outside.”
The issue arose midafternoon on April 18 on board Delta Flight 2035 when Hamilton said he needed to use their airplane lavatory.
“We weren’t taking off. We were still. The plane isn’t moving,” Hamilton later told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He added that he had not used the restroom before boarding the plane because “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 told the newspaper that he made his way to a lavatory in the back of the plane, where a flight attendant told him if he used the restroom at that moment, the plane would lose its place in the line.
He did not want to be a disturbance, he said, so he returned to his seat.
However, after more time sitting on the tarmac, he described it as an “emergency” situation and went to the restroom to urinate.
“The pilot came on and said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I’m sorry for the inconvenience but we have to return to the gate and remove a passenger,’ ” Hamilton told the Sentinel. “It escalated to that point that fast.”
In the first video, Hamilton expressed concerns that as soon as he exited the plane, it would leave him behind, and the agent would not ensure his spot on the flight.
Other passengers could be heard in the video wondering aloud why Hamilton was seen as a problem. Some agreed with him that as soon as he stepped off the plane, it would take off without him.
“I haven’t done anything. What have I done? If I can even understand what you’ve been told, we can have a human to human interaction,” Hamilton said, starting to show frustration. “A situation is being created where everyone’s on the plane and I’m holding the plane up, when I’m just asking to understand why I’m being asked to move.”
A second video showed another employee trying to level with the passenger.
“I don’t understand why I have to get off this plane,” Hamilton launched again into the issue. “I had to use the restroom. So everyone who has to use the restroom has to get off the plane?”
“Yeah,” the agent responded, “if it’s during takeoff …”
“Everyone who has ever had to use the restroom during takeoff has to get off a plane?” Hamilton interrupted.
“Well we haven’t had that scenario, sir,” the agent said.
After Hamilton continually refused to leave the plane, all passengers were removed and soon after re-boarded, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Hamilton was reportedly not allowed back on the plane.
Delta said that the 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,” the airline said in a statement, “especially at the critical points of takeoff and landing.”
In an open letter to Delta, a woman who said she was a passenger on last week’s flight called the incident “the most outrageous treatment of a paying customer that I have seen in my two decades of flying.”
The woman, who was identified herself as Krista R., said she, her husband and child were seated across from Hamilton, who she dubbed “Nice Gentleman.”
“The final event of this horrifying saga occurred when, after the plane was airborne, the pilot announced his apologies for the delays and explained that the situation was due to a security concern/issue,” she wrote. “My husband and I observed the entire event (my husband accompanied the Nice Gentleman when he was taken aside in the airport), and there was never any hint of a security risk or concern … unless an emergency need to use the bathroom after unpredictable delays is now considered a ‘security risk/issue.’”
Delta reportedly refunded the cost of Hamilton’s ticket from Atlanta to Milwaukee, but not the taxes and fees, and left him to find his own way back to Wisconsin.
In-flight dust-ups are hardly uncommon.
United Airlines became embroiled in a public relations crisis earlier this month when security was seen brutally dragging a passenger from a plane because he would not give up his seat to a crew member.
Videos showed 69-year-old David Dao being knocked against an arm rest and dragged down the aisle and back to the terminal at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
But recent airline incidents have increasingly centered on politics.
Following the contentious presidential election, the nation’s divisions have been on full display in a staggering array of situations and spaces — including airplanes.
Late last year, Delta banned a passenger after he went on a pro-Trump rant.
In January, an Alaska Airlines traveler verbally bashed a Trump supporter — and was bounced from the plane.
That same month, prosecutors said a traveler attacked a Muslim airline employee, warning her that Trump “will get rid of all of you.”
On a United Airlines flight just last month, a pilot gave a bizarre speech before takeoff — prompting dozens of concerned passengers to flee the plane.
Days later, passengers rejoiced when a man was kicked off a Houston-bound United flight for causing a disturbance that was blamed on racist comments.
Cellphone footage of the incident showed the man saying that all the “illegals” should be kicked off the plane, moments before he and a woman were asked to collect their belongings and exit the aircraft.
“Get out of here,” a passenger said. “Racists aren’t welcome in America! This is not Trump’s America!”
More recently, a celebrity dentist said he was booted from an American Airlines flight after he made a wisecrack about Trump’s immigration policies.