Brooklyn man kicked off JetBlue flight says he was racially profiled

Sonia Rincon
December 05, 2019 - 6:15 pm
Shaun Lynda

Sonia Rincon

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NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- A Brooklyn man says he was kicked off a JetBlue flight last week after an interaction with a flight attendant escalated -- and he says racial discrimination is why he got the boot -- and he's now exploring his legal options. 

He recounted the incident at a press conference Thursday, which was also attended by Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams.

Shaun Lynda, who is African American, was boarding a flight to JFK Airport from Barbados on Nov. 28 when observed a flight attendant offer seating with extra leg room to a white family. 

He says he then asked a flight attendant why the family was being upgraded to roomier seats. Her response? "None of your business," he claims the flight attendant "snapped" at him.

Another flight attendant, however, stepped in and offered to move him as well to a roomier seat. He accepted.

But the first flight attendant overruled her colleague and said he had to go back to his original seat, which he did.

Lynda says the first flight attendant then patted him on the leg and said, "are you going to behave yourself?"

He responded to her, "I’m an educated man and I find the question insulting."

Lynda was then removed from the aircraft and escorted off by a pair of officers. But as he was being escorted off, he shot video on his phone asking fellow passengers what he did wrong. In the video, multiple passengers are heard saying "nothing."

Lynda says he never raised his voice or cursed. 

His return to the U.S. was delayed a day, when he returned on the day after Thanksgiving, missing Thanksgiving morning with his children. 

Borough president Adams said, "This is a very intelligent businessman in our city, in our borough who has given back, and for him to have went through that experience and the people who are around him clearly indicated this man did nothing wrong."

JetBlue spokesman Derek Dombrowski issued a lengthy statement, below, which Lynda disputes:

We take any claim of discrimination seriously. The decision to remove a customer from a flight is not made lightly and would never be related to a customer’s ethnicity or race. Shortly before takeoff, a crewmember was reseating a family so the mother could sit next to her children as their seat assignments had them sitting apart. Because the only seats available were in a row with extra legroom, the crew offered the mother and her children those seats consistent with JetBlue’s policy to make every effort to seat families together. Another customer asked the crew why the extra legroom seats were offered to the family and demanded an extra legroom seat as well. After the customer declined to pay for an upgraded seat assignment, he was asked to return to his originally assigned seat. The customer became angry and used inappropriate language with crewmembers, and as the situation risked further escalation in air after takeoff, the crew determined the customer would need to be rebooked on a different flight.

As New York City’s hometown airline, diversity is in our DNA, and we celebrate the many cultural backgrounds of our crewmembers and customers.

At Thursday's press conference, Lynda disputed many claims in the JetBlue statement, including:

--He says he never "declined to pay for an upgraded seat assignment" because the cost of an upgrade was never discussed.

--He says he never used "inappropriate language."

--He says the claim that the mother was reseated to be next to her children is not true -- he says they were already sitting together.