Porter Airlines passengers say that after a two-hour-long weather-related tarmac delay, airline employees told them to prove any videos of the incident were deleted or they could be prosecuted.
The “bomb cyclone” made air travel miserable for thousands of passengers passing through major east coast airports late last week, but one airline reportedly took drastic measures to hide evidence of a weather-related mechanical delay at Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) on Friday. Passengers who filmed the saga of a Porter Airlines flight to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ), claim that gate agent threaten stranded flyers with arrest if they did not provide evidence that any mobile phone photographs or videos of the unfolding incident had been deleted.
“There was a problem with the latch door to the luggage compartment and when it passed 10 o’clock apparently the crew couldn’t fly anymore because […] in their words, they would turn into pumpkins,” passenger Kira Wegler told the Global News network. According to Wegler, frustrated passenger began filming the scene as information became scarce and excuses from gate agents became more and more absurd. “At that point, the personnel came from behind the desk and started threatening us to call the police if we don’t delete the videos off of our phones and show evidence that it’s gone from our trash bin,” she explained to reporters.
While many flyers reportedly deleted photographs in the face of the threat of prosecution, other stranded flyers continued to record what appears to be an airline employee telling the delayed air travelers that the taking of photographs and videos at the gate is prohibited. The airline has since apologized for the “misunderstanding” and confirmed that there are no such rules against taking pictures or video images in the gate area.
“The intention was only to try and enforce what was believed to be an airport policy,” a Porter Airlines spokesperson told Newsweek on Tuesday. “While it was indicated at the time that police based at the airport could be called to address this situation, there was no direct statement that passengers would be arrested.”
Perhaps more important than the kerfuffle over cell phone recording for the stranded travelers was the fact that the delayed passengers were reportedly denied compensation even though the airline appears to have admitted that mechanical issues and a crew scheduling conflict caused the delay and eventual cancellation. Passengers who had hoped to arrive in Toronto on Friday didn’t arrive at their destination until late Monday.
“Because the root causes of the cancellation were weather-related, we assisted with finding hotels in the area for those who needed accommodation,” the airline said in a statement. “Porter does not typically pay for these costs when flights are affected by weather, but we do our best to help find reduced rates. We understand that this is frustrating for anyone who has a flight delayed for multiple days. It isn’t our intention to put people in this situation, but the severe nature of the storm resulted in significant effects.”