Another day, yet another unhappy airline customer videotaping a confrontation with an airline employee after he has his SFO-bound ticket canceled out of New Orleans. The full, 13-minute cellphone video has now been pulled off of Facebook, but it was posted by Hercules, CA-based frequent flyer Navang Oza, 37, after he disputed a charge for an overweight piece of luggage, and the argument led a ticket counter agent to cancel his ticket outright and tell him he did not have permission to film her. It remains unclear if there were extenuating circumstances in the dispute, including an accusation by police that Oza was drunk at the time.
NBC Bay Area picked up the story via Oza's Facebook page, going with the potentially misleading headline "United Agent Cancels Man's Trip For Taping Argument," because it's clear that the dispute was well underway when the video begins and it is not clear how intoxicated Oza may have been. He says in the post "When I started recording on my iPhone the lady at the count[er] got very mad and called the cops who kicked out of the airport and told me to leave or I'd be arrested," and he says, "when the cops got there they said I was drunk when I only had 2 beers before getting to the airport with my colleagues from work." One could question the veracity of that, however, because a) this is New Orleans, and b) this was posted at 4 a.m. on Saturday of Jazz Fest weekend, which apparently coincided with Oza's work trip.
A clip of the video is included in NBC's coverage below.
The frustrated ticket agent does seem to suggest, however, that a reason she's calling for the cancellation of Oza's ticket is the videotaping itself. On the video you hear her say "Cancel the reservation," and Oza says, "I want to know why." She replies, "Because you did not have my permission." She also says "Until that [clip] is erased, you’re not traveling." To be clear, because it was a public place, Oza was within his rights to videotape the dispute.
The origin of the dispute was that the agent wanted to charge Oza a $300 surcharge for his overweight luggage. He claims that he knew it was over the 50-pound limit, but that he was only charged $125 when he flew from SFO to New Orleans, and it was allegedly the same bag with the same contents though that can not be confirmed. He also says that he was willing to pay the extra fee, because he was able to expense it to his company, but he had clearly been arguing over it before the video began. Nor do we know what he said to the agent before the video began, or how he was acting in the airport. Gate agents and flight attendants are within their rights to remove passengers or cancel their tickets if they are visibly or extremely inebriated Oza sounds as though he is slurring his words in the video however that is not the stated reason the agent was giving for canceling his ticket, even if that was what police said when they escorted him out of the airport.
Oza says he ended up purchasing a one-way ticket on a different airline, and he wants to be reimbursed.
United Airlines issued a statement to NBC Bay Area saying, "The video does not reflect the positive customer experience we strive to offer, and for that we apologize. We are reviewing this situation, including talking with Mr. Oza and our employees to better understand what happened."
The incident follows on a string of videos of confrontations with airlines, including the now infamous footage of Louisville doctor David Dao being dragged off a plane in Chicago when he refused to give up his seat to a United Airlines employee after being bumped from the flight by lottery.