Heard on the Hill

D’Amato Apologizes After Airline Incident

‘It was a total overreaction, probably on both parts,’ former senator says

Former Sen. Al D’Amato apologized for an incident on a JetBlue airliner in Florida on Monday night. (Jemal Countess/Getty Images file photo)

Two days after he was escorted from a JetBlue airliner, former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato said the incident was an “overreaction” on both sides.

The New York Republican tried to incite passengers to protest after sitting on a Fort Lauderdale to New York flight at the gate for five hours Monday night.

Later, D’Amato confronted the captain who had asked a few passengers to move a few rows back from the front of the plane due to weight and balance issues, according to witnesses onboard.

D’Amato, 79, said Wednesday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” he told the JetBlue captain, “You said you were going to do something. Why don’t you do it?”

To which the captain replied, “You’re outta here,” the former lawmaker said.

In a statement, the airline said that if a passenger causes 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.”

Representatives for D’Amato told The New York Daily News he lost his patience after the long delay and a “long and demanding trip to Florida to visit an ailing friend.” 

“JetBlue has apologized to the senator for overreacting and the senator apologized for speaking his mind at a time when he clearly had left his patience at the gate,” the representatives told the newspaper in a statement. “Anyone who knows Sen. D’Amato knows he speaks his mind.”

D’Amato served three terms in the Senate from 1981 to 1999, before being unseated by Democrat Charles E. Schumer, the current Senate minority leader.

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