'Airplane mode Karen' refuses to stop using phone on flight, all passengers forced to deboard
In what appears to be another incident of airline policy non-compliance, a video shared on TikTok shows an entire plane full of waiting passengers forced to deboard because one passenger wouldn’t allegedly set her phone to airplane mode. The incident was originally captured by TikTok user @ashleynhowey.
Her video shows uniformed officers informing passengers that they would all have to deplane. It also showed angry passengers calling the woman out outside, as she was escorted by the officers. As the officers announced that everyone had to deplane, people around could be heard shouting. “Oh my god, woman. Get off the plane,” one woman shouted. “You have got to be kidding me,” said another passenger.
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As the woman was being led away off the plane by officers, one male passenger shouted, “You suck!” Others used expletives and many people booed her. While it is not certain where and when this incident took place exactly, the TikTok video was shared on Friday, July 9. It was immediately shared all across Reddit, YouTube and Twitter, with many calling the woman the “Airplane Mode Karen”. The TikTok user who shared the video had used the hashtag “vegas”. One website said it appeared to be a Las Vegas-bound flight possibly out of Chicago.
On Reddit, one user asked, “Why didn’t the police just ask her to get off the jet, and if she refused, arrest her? Why make all the other passengers deboard? I don’t understand the process,” to which another responded, “Probably trying to avoid another David Dao incident.”
At the Chicago O'Hare International Airport, on April 9, 2017, Dr David Dao Duy Anh, a Vietnamese-American passenger, was injured while being forcibly removed from a fully boarded, sold-out flight to Louisville International Airport. Footage of the incident went viral and United Airlines got criticized across the board — even former US President Donald Trump called the airline’s treatment of Dao "horrible."
Dao, speaking about the incident in 2019, said that he did not recall officers dragging him off a United Airlines flight. But he said that he got very emotional when he saw the footage. "I just cried," he said. He also said that he woke up in a hospital with no memory of being taken off the plane.
In a video shot by two passengers sitting behind Dao, he repeatedly refused to get off the flight, telling officers he was a physician and had to work in the morning. As Chicago Department of Aviation Security officers tried to remove him from the plane, they struck Dao's face against an armrest, then pulled him, apparently unconscious, by his arms along the aircraft aisle past rows of onlooking passengers.
The incident reportedly left him with a concussion, two lost teeth, and a broken nose. It ultimately led to a financial settlement with United and the firing of two Chicago aviation security officers. It also led to policy changes.