“Upon landing the crew was debriefed and multiple passenger statements collected. Based on the information collected to date, it appears the customers who were removed sought to disrupt the cabin with provocative behavior, including shouting,” Delta said.
“This type of conduct is not welcome on any Delta flight. While one, according to media reports, is a known prankster who was video recorded and encouraged by his traveling companion, what is paramount to Delta is the safety and comfort of our passengers and employees. It is clear these individuals sought to violate that priority.”
Missing from Delta’s statement is what happened to precipitate the behavior from Saleh and Albaher that the airline deemed unacceptable.
Saleh and Albaher released a new video Wednesday after arriving in New York via a different airline with new footage from the plane and the immediate aftermath, as well as further explanation as to their side of events.
“This whole thing was my fault,” Albaher said in the video. “I was speaking Arabic and the lady started coming at me, but I froze up and I couldn’t even speak up for myself. I was scared cause a bunch of them were coming at me at the same time and I felt like a criminal.
“Adam, he’s like my big brother. He stood up for me,” he added. “He took out his camera. If I was by myself, I wouldn’t be able to take out my camera like that. I was just so shocked and stunned about what happened. I was paralyzed.”
Also featured in the video is a conversation the pair had with the plane’s pilot, while surrounded by Delta staff.
“We can accommodate you on the next flight, but if you keep this up, we will not be able to accommodate you,” the pilot tells Saleh in the video. “Everybody’s excited. You brought attention upon yourself and you’re obviously doing it for the benefit of [the cameras]. We need you to calm down.”
But according to Saleh, the camera was there not to incite but to document the events as they unfolded.
“When it turned into a chain reaction of, like, 20 racist people against us and the captain comes to take us out, that’s when I took my camera out,” Saleh said. “I knew they were trying … to kick us out for speaking another language. And when we said that in the video, nobody denied anything. Until after they’d seen the video that was out, then they tried to deny the situation.”
However unlikely it might seem, it’s possible both Delta and Saleh and Albaher could be telling the truth, differing only in when each party contends the incident began.
In Saleh and Albaher’s narrative, the events began when other passengers provoked Albaher after hearing him speak Arabic.
From Delta’s point of view, the trouble started when Saleh took out his camera and he and Albaher contested their removal.
It’s unclear if the parties will ever see eye to eye, even as they all seem to be telling the same story, albeit with different ideas of where it begins and who was at fault.