It wasn’t the canceled Christmas flight that upset Shelley Morrison essentially the most. It was the policeman who threatened to arrest her if she didn’t leave the airport’s secure area.
Mrs. Morrison and her three daughters arrived at Nashville International Airport two hours early on December 25 for a Southwest Airlines flight to Cleveland to satisfy family in Ohio.
But when airlines canceled flights across the country, sowing confusion, disappointment and anger amongst 1000’s of travellers, Ms Morrison tried to search out out more about what was happening to her flight.
She said that as she waited in line amongst frustrated travelers hoping to talk to an worker on the Southwest gate, an airline worker called for security and two cops from the airport’s Department of Public Safety showed up.
One officer told travelers from the southwest that they have to leave “otherwise you can be arrested for trespassing.” TikTok video Recorded by Mrs. Morrison’s daughter, Amani Robinson, 20.
“Go. Right now,” the officer said. “Everyone on the uncertain side. The ticket office will answer any questions.”
The airport said in an announcement that its officers were working “to make sure the protection of all passengers” as harsh winter weather wreaked havoc on holiday air travel.
Ms Morrison said the text notifications she had received from Southwest indicated her flight had only been delayed, not cancelled. In the video, she directly asked the officer if he was threatening to arrest people for trespassing.
– That’s what he said. “If you haven’t got a legitimate ticket, and also you’re on the secure side, and also you refuse to depart, you can be arrested.”
Ms Morrison replied: “We have tickets. We have valid tickets.”
And the officer said, “Well, in case your ticket has been cancelled, you now not have a ticket. You understand that, don’t you?
The officer added that Southwest called the police because travelers were congregating near a gate that needed to be closed.
Ms Morrison said she had gone to a different line for information when the officer approached her again.
According one other TikTok video recorded by Ms. Robinson, the officer asked to see her tickets and took them to a Southwest worker who confirmed that her flight had been cancelled. The officer again instructed Ms Morrison to depart the secure a part of the airport, because the video shows.
Mrs. Morrison, who’s Black, asked the officer why he decided to stop her and ask her for the tickets, based on the video.
“Is it customary?” she asked him. “Do you stop everyone and check their tickets? Do the police make a habit of stopping everyone and checking their credentials?
The officer explained that “as a consequence of our earlier meeting, I even have an affordable suspicion that your tickets have been cancelled, OK? And you could have been advised to depart the secured page.
Ms Morrison agreed to depart but told the officer: “It’s absolutely inappropriate on Christmas night for people to ask questions and threaten to arrest them for trespassing only for standing in line.”
In his statement on the meeting, which he informed earlier, inter alia, TennesseeNashville International Airport said that after multiple flights were canceled Sunday night, travelers were asked to rebook flights on the ticket counters on the opposite side of the safety line.
The statement said Southwest staff contacted the airport’s operations center and asked for a police officer to be sent to “escort passengers” to those ticket offices.
The airport issued a recent statement on Friday saying airport officials are working with Southwest and other carriers to enhance communications.
“The unusual variety of flight cancellations over the past week has caused tremendous stress to our travelers and included an unlucky incident involving a passenger, airline staff and a BNA officer,” the statement read. “We are very sorry that this has happened and we’ve taken the situation to heart.”
Ms Morrison said she had not made it to Cleveland that day and was still trying to search out her luggage after she checked it.
She said she had contacted airport authorities about meeting with police but had yet to receive a response. She said she wanted the officer’s behavior “addressed” and expected public recognition or an apology.
“I used to be just asking questions,” she said. “Nothing would suggest that a single mother with three children was a threat, nor was anyone else on this line.”