Captain removing SS agent from aircraft

TurboS7

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As you all know a captain for a major airline requested and removed a Secret Service agent from the aircraft. The excuse was that they didn't feel that everything was appropriate. Nevertheless the President was very verbal and upset about his agent being removed. As a captain where do you draw the line in a public transport business. I have worked with the Secret Service and the individual's authenticity could have been verified in minutes, yet the flight was delayed over an hour. How do you guys feel about that?????
 

ifly4food

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The flight was an American Airlines flight from IAD to DFW, as reported in the media.

I have mixed feelings about it. It is the Captain's perogative to allow a LEO on his airplane. Period. The Captain deserves this authority and should exercize it at his discretion.
On the other hand, we weren't talking about Joe Blow local deputy here. This was a Secret Service agent. His credentials could have been easily researched in no time, especially considering they were still in Washington. The Captain may have acted a little abruptly and maybe irresponsibly by not verifying the agent was indeed who he said he was before booting him. Of course, none of us were there either, so maybe there were other events. The agent just happened to be of Arabic descent. The agent also seems to have a chip on his shoulder about it as seen by his comments in the media and his immediate filing of a lawsuit. Perhaps the agent got smart with the Captain or somehow gave the impression that he was going whether the Captain liked it or not; i.e. pushed the Captain's buttons in some way.

I guess the bottom line is that in normal cicumstances, it was up to the Captain. He could have and should have checked the agents background... unless the agent was booted for some other reason...
 

Timebuilder

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I agree. As the story unfolded, my journalist hairs began to tingle, telling me that there is likely a bit more to the story.
 

publisher

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Effort

This is not so much a question of authority, especially on a pilot board, but, what effort was made by the captain or the airline to verify the agents status.

There is a certain implied relationship here between law enforcement and the company. If the company makes little effort to verify, they failed their fuduciary obligation. The airline should have checked and provided the captain with assurance.
 

jetdriven

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where does it say you MUST carry SS agents on your plane? I know you cant deny the FAA, but.. I still think a typical airline captain is a reasonable man and it is his call. Captain's DESCRETION!!
 

fulcrum

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irresponsible captain

that captain was probably a hillbilly who just couldnt believe that an arab could be a ss agent ,well his stupidity is going to cost the airline and the industry , he could have checked out the agents credentials in a few minutes if he really wanted to
fulcrum
 

ifly4food

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Re: irresponsible captain

fulcrum said:
that captain was probably a hillbilly who just couldnt believe that an arab could be a ss agent ,well his stupidity is going to cost the airline and the industry , he could have checked out the agents credentials in a few minutes if he really wanted to
fulcrum
Sorry to be argumentative, but before you call a 121 airline captain an "irresponsible hillbilly" perhaps you should justify your opinion with experience.
At 350 hours, I don't think you know the first, second, or third thing about being a captain for a major airline.
 

Cornelius

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As far as the details go, I'm sure more and more will be released. I think the captain had every right to throw the SS agent off the aircraft on the basis of the paper work being out of whack. Terrorists are smart people and that is why it is so difficult to discover one on your flight. Terrorists know how to get paperwork, IDs, and uniforms that look authentic. If the pilot feels uncomfortable, then he/she should throw that individual off the aircraft. For those of us that have been in the airline industry we know captains don't have a whole lot of time to be running around verifying details and checking the paperwork.

Who knows, one day when a captain doesn't allow someone on board could be the day he/she just saved that flight. Its tricky business people.
 

fulcrum

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the capt might be a wonderful and responsible pilot
but when it came to being a human being he did not do what was right ,you and me both know that , i am not going to judge his flying skills but surely he lacked the skills to see through that he did the right thing --------- even the president is mad at him
fulcrum
 

ifly4food

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fulcrum said:
the capt might be a wonderful and responsible pilot
but when it came to being a human being he did not do what was right ,you and me both know that , i am not going to judge his flying skills but surely he lacked the skills to see through that he did the right thing --------- even the president is mad at him
fulcrum
Again, I challenge you to back this opinion up with experience.
A Captain has a lot to do in a very short time. He is the final authority of all aspects of the flight and is legally and morally responsible for ensuring the safety of all 200 or so passengers. In order to accomplish this, the captain has the final say in all operations... to make a judgement call based on a wealth of experience of what will occur to maintain safety. This captain excercized that right.
We can monday morning quarterback all we want, but none of us were there. He did what he felt was right at the time. End of story.

And I couldn't care less what the President thinks.
 
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fulcrum

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i think the same flight might have been a little safer if an armed secret service agent was on board
fulcrum
 

ifly4food

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fulcrum said:
i think the same flight might have been a little safer if an armed secret service agent was on board
fulcrum
You're still missing the point. the Captain booted him because he couldn't verify in the alloted time that he was indeed a secret service agent. The Captain didn't want to allow an armed individual on board who he wasn't 120% certain that person was legit. If this person wasn't a real ss agent, it deffinitely wouldn't have been a safe right. Better safe than sorry in this circumstance.
Besides, as I said before there may have been other events. Perhaps the agent got smart mouthed with the captain or they had some sort of personality conflict. Also, the agent's paperwork was inconsistent.
Bottom line... it was the Captain's decision.
 

EagleRJ

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The Captain acted with prudence and good judgement. In this age of terrorism, inkjet printers, and Ebay, false credentials and stolen uniforms are a valid threat. If someone who is of Arab descent wants to board my plane carrying a gun, his credentials and paperwork had better be spotless, or he is going to take the bus. He may get upset and cry racism, but that's just the way it's going to be.
In my opinion, the USSS agent showed incredible conceit and unprofessionalism by making a media scene out of this and filing lawsuits. He of all people should understand that meeting this threat will involve some personal inconvenience for all of us.
 

MLBWINGBORN

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It would appear that the agent in question clearly over stepped his bounds..

USSS is clearly responcible for the safety of the protectee in matters of ground operations..However..In matters if civil flight operations, the Pilot In Command is directly responsible for,and is the final authority of the safe operation of the aircraft..

He can and has on several occasions superceded the USSS in matters of flight operations..

After having dealt with the USSS on nearly a daily basis for three years, i have had very few problems with any agents involved with the special details..

But..I did have an agent refuse to present his credentials to my co Captain while working a detail on a chartered aircraft during the last Presidential election ..As a result he was denied boarding..

Part of our preflight envolved determining who had what and where it was on the aircraft..This included authorization to carry weapons on board..

To make a long story short...After a very private conversation with the agent in charge of the detail..They both very politely presented their credentails and the one agent was made to apologize for his behavior..

Our company later recieved a nice letter concerning our handling of the matter..

While i wasnt there..I would guess there is more to this story than what has been reported..

MLBWINGBORN
 

MetroSheriff

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Re: irresponsible captain

fulcrum said:
that captain was probably a hillbilly who just couldnt believe that an arab could be a ss agent ,well his stupidity is going to cost the airline and the industry , he could have checked out the agents credentials in a few minutes if he really wanted to
fulcrum
Fulcrum,

That has got to be one of the most assinine posts that I have seen in quite some time. :rolleyes:
 

skydash

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USSS

The Captain had every right to toss the agent,period. The FAR's state that the PIC is responsibe for,and the final authority over the operation of his/her aircraft. Becoming a Captain at a Major isn't the easiest thing to do,and usually the people who sit in that seat are pretty darn sharp.If he had a problem with the agents verification,it's his right and duty to deny boarding. If you sit in that seat and take the big bucks,you gotta make the tough choices. He made the right one.
 

publisher

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Right

Who is asserting that the captain did not have the right.

The point is that there are systems in place to verify if one wants to make the effort. None of us know whether or not that effort took place or what took place/

He had the right, that does not make him right. We cannot let this get to where the captain stands at the door and is the arbitrator of who gets on or who doesn't.
 

Hugh Jorgan

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I heard from an AA buddy of mine that when the credentials were questioned, the SS guy got huffy, so the Capt told him to take a hike. I would have booted his ass too. If the SS guy would have been mature and cooperative, I can't imagine any crew not taking the time to verify his credentials. But, just how much effort are they going to put into helping a jerk? I am guessing ethnicity had about as much to do with this as Dan Rather's chance of winning the decathalon in the next Olympics.
 

skydash

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Right

Until the FARs are rewritten,the Captain CAN stand at the door and say who can and can't board. It's his baby!! Who do you think the first person they're gonna go to is if something goes wrong??Not that USSS agent who got his weiner stepped on!
 

Wiggums

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You'd think that if there was a group of people that could sympathize with the aviation's industries security woes it would be the Secret Service. If an airline pilot was going to ride Air Force One with the President, and there was a paperwork problem I'd bet the Secret Service would proceed very carefully. Unfortunately, an airline captain has only a few minutes to make a call either way. If I was the captain I would exercise EXTERME caution before letting someone who is questionable board my flight with a loaded gun.You'd also think that someone who works for the President would think a little more before bring a lawsuit.
 
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