NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A family flying out of Nashville International Airport (BNA) saw airport police officers threatening to arrest a group of passengers waiting for details about a Southwest Airlines flight delay. recorded an encounter with
“I didn’t know what was going to happen, so I thought it would be best to start recording,” said Amani Robinson, who filmed the exchange.
On Christmas Day, Robinson and his mother, Shelly Morrison, were planning to travel to Cleveland, Ohio with their family.
While inside the terminal, they were approached by BNA police officers. A video captured by Robinson showed the officer saying, “You and her have to leave or she will be arrested for trespassing.”
Morrison couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
“Did you say you arrest people for trespassing because they were at the ticket office on the plane?” Morrison asked in the video.
“Yes, if you do not have a valid ticket and you are on the safe side and refuse to leave, you will be arrested,” the officer replied.
A Southwest Airlines employee asked for an officer to escort passengers from Concourse C to the ticket counter before security, according to a statement released by BNA officials.
“It was really devastating to go through that,” Morrison said. “I think the comments were meant to strike a chord of fear. To be honest, there was fear for a moment, but then there was also justifiable indignation.”
The two were at the airport for hours after receiving several notifications that their flight to Ohio was delayed. Morrison and Robinson were among the hundreds stranded at the airport over the winter, waiting for answers.
“It was enough for us to have a hard time traveling. We understand that you can’t control the weather, but the insult to injury was the way airport authorities treated us,” Morrison explained.
Officers caught in the video claim that the passenger’s flight was canceled, invalidating their boarding pass and forcing them to leave the secure area. Morrison and Robinson, however, claim that this was a mistake and that it was shortly after 4:00 a.m. that they learned that their flight had been officially cancelled.
“All the information from Southwest was contrary to what he stated on our first meeting with him,” Morrison said.
BNA officials released a statement Wednesday explaining why officers were in the concourse, but did not directly address the incident.
“The Department of Public Safety at Nashville International Airport® is working to ensure the safety of all passengers throughout the airport,” BNA wrote in a statement. “Unfortunately, the recent winter weather disruption has created operational challenges for airlines and airports across the country, causing flight delays and cancellations. Due to the impact, travelers were asked to go to pre-security ticket counters to assist in rebooking flights. to escort passengers to Gate C-7/9, Concourse C. We understand and appreciate the frustrations travelers may have and We are working to give people the best possible passenger experience.”
Morrison told Nexstar’s WKRN that he believed the airport’s statement was timely but incomplete, adding that the official’s conduct should be addressed appropriately.
Robinson and Morrison hope that sharing the video will help others know their rights and stand up for themselves.
“I think it was totally inappropriate and unnecessary,” Morrison said. “Because if you don’t act belligerent and disrespect police and other police, you risk being arrested.”