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Saturday, 5 December 2009
AirTran Disputes Tedd Petruna's Email
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Furthermore, they contend Petruna wasn't on the plane (he was originally scheduled to be on that flight, but they say his connecting flight was late - typical). Petruna evidently isn't giving interviews, but Chaplain Dr. Keith Robinson is giving dozens and has personally responded to emails from NER confirming his story.  NER is also in possession of an email from another passenger confirming the story. Here is the AirTran rebuttal (in bold) to the original Petruna email (in italics):

I was in first class coming home. Eleven muslim men got on the plane in full attire. Two sat in first class and the rest peppered themselves throughout the plane all the way to the back.

The full party was 13 individuals. Their religion is not known to anyone at AirTran. The individuals in this party proceeded to their seats throughout the aircraft and were dressed like any other passenger.

As the plane taxied to the runway, the stewardesses gave the safety spiel we are all so familiar with. At that time, one of the men got on his cell and called one of his companions in the back and proceeded to talk on the phone in Arabic very loudly and very aggressively. This took the first stewardess out of the picture for she repeatedly told the man that cell phones were not permitted at the time. He ignored her as if she wasn't there.

There have been no reports of any individual phoning any other individual on the flight. Furthermore it would be extremely difficult to know who someone is calling. If they are calling someone in the back of the plane, the person listening in on this conversation would not be able to hear the person in the back of the plane nor know where the call was going to.

The second man who answered the phone did the same and this took out the second stewardess. In the back of the plane at this time, 2 younger muslims, one in the back aisle, and one in front of him, window, began to show footage of a porno they had taped the night before, and were very loud about it.

It would be impossible to know what people were allegedly watching or whom they were speaking with in the back of the plane from Business Class. Furthermore, how would anyone know what was on this alleged videotape or when it was made?

Now, they are only permitted to do this prior to Jihad. If a Muslim man goes into a strip club, he has to view the woman via mirror with his back to her (don't ask me, I don't make the rules, but I've studied). The third stewardess informed them that they were not to have electronic devices on at this time. To which one of the men said, "Shut up, infidel dog!" She went to take the camcorder and he began to scream in her face in Arabic.

While the flight attendants did ask an individual to discontinue the use of portable electronic devices, there are no reports of screaming or shouting insults to our Crew Members.

At that exact moment, all 11 of them got up and started to walk to the cabin. This is where I had had enough! I got up and started to the back where I heard a voice behind me from another Texan twice my size say, "I got your back." I grabbed the man who had been on the phone by the arm and said, "you WILL go sit down or you Will be thrown from this plane!"

There are no reports of any passenger standing up in a threatening manner. At NO time was there any physical altercation between passengers. Upon returning to the gate, the individual on the phone and his party were asked to de-plane and did so in full compliance of Crew Members' instructions.

As I led him around me to take his seat, the fellow Texan grabbed him by the back of his neck and his waist and headed out with him. I then grabbed the second man and said, "You WILL do the same!"

This is simply untrue. At NO time was there any physical altercation between passengers.

He protested but adrenaline was flowing now and he was going to go. As I escorted him forward, the plane doors open and 3 TSA agents and 4 police officers entered.

At no time did any law enforcement or Transportation Security Administration (TSA) official enter the aircraft. Two TSA inspectors came to the gate to assess the situation and spoke with the individual involved and his party.

Me and my new Texan friend were told to cease and desist for they had this under control. I was happy to oblige actually. There was some commotion in the back, but within moments, all 11 were escorted off the plane. They then unloaded their luggage.

The entire party complied fully with Crew Members' instructions to exit the aircraft in order to ascertain the situation. Their bags were not removed at any time.

We talked about the occurrence and were in disbelief that it had happened, when suddenly, the door opened again and on walked all eleven!!

After determining none of the individuals posed a security threat to the aircraft, the party was allowed to re-plane.

Stone faced, eyes front and robotic (the only way I can describe it). The stewardess from the back had been in tears and when she saw this, she was having NONE of it! Being that I was up front, I heard and saw the whole ordeal. She told the TSA agent there was NO WAY she was staying on the plane with these men.

There was no TSA or law enforcement agent ever on the plane.

The agent told her they had searched them and were going to go through their luggage with a fine tooth comb and that they were allowed to proceed to Houston.

There was no TSA agent on the plane and there was no additional screening of anyone's bags.

The captain and co-captain came out and told the agent, "we and our crew will not fly this plane!" After a word or two, the entire crew, luggage in tow, left the plane. Five minutes later, the cabin door opened again and a whole new crew walked on.

The crews were swapped. This is a common occurrence in the aviation industry for any number of reasons. If a Crew Member cannot or will not continue a flight, we must replace that Crew Member.

Again, this is where I had had enough!! I got up and asked, "What the hell is going on?" I was told to take my seat. They were sorry for the delay and I would be home shortly. I said, "I'm getting off this plane." The stewardess sternly told me that she could not allow me to get off.

Now I'm mad! I said, "I am a grown man who bought this ticket, who's time is mine with a family at home and I am going through that door, or I'm going through that door with you under my arm!! But I am going through that door!!"

At no time did any AirTran Crew Member refuse to allow a passenger off the plane. Had any passenger threatened a Crew Member, we would have taken appropriate action, including contacting law enforcement.

And I heard a voice behind me say, "So am I." Then everyone behind us started to get up and say the same. Within 2 minutes, I was walking off that plane where I was met with more agents who asked me to write a statement. I had 5 hours to kill at this point so why the hell not. Due to the amount of people who got off that flight, it was cancelled. I was supposed to be in Houston at 6pm. I got here at 12:30am.

After offering all passengers the opportunity to de-plane the aircraft, 12 individuals decided to not take this flight and opted to be re-booked. AirTran officials did not request any passenger to complete an official statement.

The flight was not cancelled and did continue to Houston-Hobby.

Look up the date. Flight 297, Atlanta to Houston.

The flight was not cancelled and did continue to Houston-Hobby.

If this wasn't a dry run, I don't know what one is. They wanted to see how TSA would handle it, how the crew would handle it, and how the passengers would handle it.
I'm telling this to you because I want you to know. The threat is real. I saw it with my own eyes.

The flight was not cancelled and did continue to Houston-Hobby.
 

The TSA determined this was a customer service issue. The party continued on the flight to Houston-Hobby that evening without further incident.

 

Though several points made in Petruna's email are given variation by others on that flight and there are discrepancies. This is to be expected from eyewitness accounts. AirTran is obviously trying to avoid lawsuits that may originate from either the Muslim passengers involved (now unlikely) or the other passengers (possible). The airlines says they did not re-check the men's bags. Did they re-check their carry-ons? How would they know they didn't leave something on-board? Shouldn't they have gone through the plane with sniffer dogs or something before allowing that plane to take off?  Was AirTran negligent of the other passengers' safety because they were trying to avoid a lawsuit by the troublemakers?

Secondly, AirTran was involved in an incident last January in which a large Muslim family (nine people) was removed from a flight due to passenger fears after they were overheard discussing the safest place to sit were a bomb on board. The airline apologized and probably paid an out-of-court settlement. Was AirTran targetted because of this earlier incident?

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Posted on 12/05/2009 6:37 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Comments
8 Dec 2009
CJ Harp

I feel sorry for the person that thinks people are paranoid about things such as this.  It is people such as him that are not asking the right questions, not listening to the true answers and are responsible for anything and everything that is going to happen to this nation when the "people who only want us dead" are in power.



7 Dec 2009
Send an emailGene Callahan

Yes, James, the most relevant fact is some people are paranoid. That's true.



5 Dec 2009
Send an emailJames

 The most relevant fact the airline confirms is that 12 passengers who were already on the plane were so concerned about what had happened that they removed themselves from the plane.

Ask yourself this: were you ever on a flight when passengers demanded de-planing?  Can you imagine any circumstance where you would demand to be let out? Would those circumstances conform more with the airline's version or the supposed eye witness?

This event occurred in Atlanta. The denial is published on a blog of the leading Atlanta newspaper. Why hasn't the paper done the job of tracking down some of the deplaning passengers and publishing the facts? (The last question answers itself.)