I was on the 2289 LAX-MIA service last Wednesday. There seems to be a lot of misinformation floating around. Although my understanding of the event is limited, I can correct a few details. I was sitting in Business, so did not see or hear any events in the rear cabin.
1. We landed ontime into MIA with no indication that anything was amiss.
2. We taxied from 8L towards D terminal and then turned left and followed a pilot vehicle - headed to a "concrete walled" secure parking bay near the fire station.
3. We were then instructed over the PA to place hands on heads and not to video any events (threats of fines etc). The cabin crew also placed hands on their heads. We could see heavily armed security/police "hiding" behind the doors in the concrete bay wall, but nothing happened for probably 20-30 minutes, when stairs were placed at 1L and security came on board. The security personnel came down both aisles, pointing assault rifles and screaming at passengers to place our hands on our FACES (from heads to our faces).
4. After 15 or 20 minutes security deplaned a single 25/35 year old male, and then some 15 minutes later an older lady who we assume was his mother (she took their carry-ons with her). The police were being very courteous to the lady.
5. All this time, there were officers controlling each cabin.
6. Then suddenly we were removed in groups of approx 6 pax. We were instructed to leave all possessions on board. Happened so fast that I deplaned with out my cel or wallet. We were lined up outside the concrete walled area and had two separate dogs come past us, then we were taken to buses and transported over to Terminal D.
7. After significant confusion (no AA or security met us off the buses and we mixed into the normal passenger area) we got instructed over PA to go to D28.
8. At D28, AA ground staff arrived 15 mins later and informed us that the aircraft was being assessed and to wait. 30 mins later we were informed that EVERY bag was being checked and to go for a stroll for at least an hour. A significant number of pax missed connections. I immediately rebooked, but due to volume, some were still being rebooked when I left the gate 3 hours later.
9. Approx 2 hours after arriving at D28, the aircraft was towed onto the gate. We were taken on board in small groups to recover our carry on bags. The selection process to pick pax to go on was very disorganized and although mostly very calm, some pax got quite agitated with this process at the gate. One gentleman had an active verbal confrontation with police as he had seen another pax mistakenly recover and deplane with his bag (recovered).
10.... that's about it! Never seen anything like in 40 years flying. We still have no idea what the event was. AA sent me an apology email yesterday with an offer of miles credited to my account for the inconvenience.
- The weirdest part of the whole scenario was the instruction to cover your faces as opposed to keeping your hands in sight of law enforcement (I struggle to find a rationale for that under any circumstance).
- The instructions not to film also seem dubious. This is an excerpt from a DHS document outlining when agents CAN prohibit filming and I don't see how they are applicable here, unless they thought "sensitive" information would be recorded between the agents and the suspect...
An order to stop recording can be constitutionally imposed when an officer can reasonably conclude that the filming is subject to a reasonable time, place, or manner restriction. Reasonable? For one, an officer may have a reasonable expectation of privacy in what is being said. The federal wiretap statute for example would prohibit someone from using a sensitive audio recording device, like a parabolic microphone, to eavesdrop on the conversation of an officer and witness after the two separated themselves from the crowd and made other reasonable efforts to keep their conversation private.8
Even an open recording may be subject to a reasonable restriction. Since officers can control the movements of the occupants of a car during a traffic stop, ordering a passenger to get back in the car may be reasonable despite the passenger’s objection that “I can’t put you on the evening news from back there.” Some traffic stops, particularly when the detained individual is armed, might justify a safety measure - - for example, a command that bystanders disperse. And a preexisting statute, ordinance, or other published restriction may limit where someonehttps://www.fletc.gov/sites/default/fil ... rmer15.pdf