Letter to JetBlue about baby “terrorist suspect”

To: [email protected]

“Our mission is to bring humanity back to air travel . . . .”  — From the JetBlue Facebook page

Good Morning.

My name is Deborah Newell Tornello, and I am a contributor at the TSA News (Facebook page here: TSA News Blog), an independent group of writers and journalists dedicated to covering the many issues — legal/Constitutional, passenger-abuse, etc. — surrounding the TSA.

I recently posted about the Ft. Lauderdale baby who was issued a boarding pass along with her family, and who was already seated on board, when suddenly, JetBlue representatives pulled the family off the plane, humiliating them in front of a cabin-load of passengers. The airline claimed at first that TSA had ordered them to do this, but you are now apparently blaming a “computer glitch” for putting the baby on a No-Fly list.

I do not accept the phrase “computer glitch,” which is “the dog ate my homework” of our age.

What I would like to know is this: who is responsible for cross-checking passengers against the No Fly list — the airlines, or the TSA/DHS? And if it is JetBlue, why was this unfortunate family sold tickets — and issued boarding passes — by JetBlue’s ticketing agent, if indeed the child was on this No Fly list?

Does some sort of tertiary cross-checking of the final passenger manifest against the No Fly list take place once passengers are already seated — in other words, should paying customers now be concerned that even when they’ve already paid for their tickets, jumped through all the security hoops, subjected themselves to whichever manner of intrusive searches they felt they could endure, spent a few hours of their lives in long lines and sitting in pens at gates, and boarded the aircraft which will take them to their destination, they still might be thwarted in their attempt to travel freely about their own country because of some nebulous “computer glitch”?

We all know that if the TSA had any indication that the child was on such a list, they would have held that family up. They hold up completely innocent people — and cause them to miss their flights — for FAR less serious things than being on the No Fly list, and sometimes, for no reason at all.

So, again: How does it work that someone who has a boarding pass and is already boarded, and seated, magically appears in a “computer glitch” that results in having paying customers yanked from a plane, put on display (TSA, local police, you name it, were all waiting) and humiliated, this way?

JetBlue, given your above-quoted mission statement, if I were working in your PR department, I would take this incident very seriously.

I hope you’ll respond so we can help clear the air, so to speak, and I will be happy to update my blog post with your clarification.
(Link: http://tsanewsblog.com/2942/news/baby-ordered-off-plane-jetblues-or-tsas-fault/  )

I look forward to your response.


Deborah Newell Tornello

(Photo: Flickr Creative Commons/Paul Lowry)