According to passengers on board the JetBlue flight 1002 headed to New York from Fort Lauderdale, which had been delayed at the gate for more than five hours, the captain had asked 10 passengers from the plane’s first nine rows to move to the back of the aircraft due to “weight and balance issues.”
When only a few would budge, D’Amato, 79, got up to encourage them to move, the passengers said. Only a couple more did.
According to D'Amato, that's when he said to the captain, "You said you were going to do something, why don't you do it?"
The captain responded to D'Amato, "You're outta here," according to the former senator.
Not long after, deputies with Broward Sheriff’s Office boarded and escorted D’Amato off the aircraft, which was still at the gate.
"It was a total overreaction, probably on both parts," D'Amato said on "GMA."
JetBlue defended its response in a statement.
“The decision to remove a customer from a flight is not taken lightly. If a customer is causing a conflict on the aircraft, it is standard procedure to ask the customer to deplane, especially if the crew feels the situation runs a risk of escalation in-flight,” the statement read.
A spokesman for D'Amto responded, "Anyone who knows Senator D'Amato knows he speaks his mind - but in this case he spoke after a long and demanding trip to Florida to visit an ailing friend, a five hour airport ground delay, additional delays as the crew sought to deal with weight and balance issues and then sleep deprivation."
The rep added that the airline apologized for “overreacting” and the senator apologized for speaking out “when he clearly had left his patience at the gate.”