WASHINGTON • A Wisconsin man said he was removed from a Delta Air Lines flight because he had to get up from his seat to make an emergency restroom run.
The passenger, identified as 39-year-old Kima Hamilton, was booted off the Delta flight from Atlanta to Milwaukee on April 18.
As it sat on the tarmac waiting for a take-off slot, he got out of his seat and walked towards the toilets, but was ordered back to his seat.
Some 30 minutes later, the plane had not moved. Mr Hamilton got up again to go to the loo and was back in his seat in "less than a minute", witnesses said.
A video shows the passenger, identified as Mr Hamilton, attempting to explain the situation to an agent who was instructing him to depart the plane.
"I need more information, sir," Mr Hamilton said. "I haven't done anything. I've paid for this ticket and I actually have to get home."
Waving for him to move, the agent replied: "I'm going to share this with you outside. We're not going to discuss this right here."
Mr Hamilton said: "I'm not really clear on why I'm being asked to leave the plane. I've purchased this ticket. I had an emergency - I had to pee.
"I tried to hold it the first time... I absolutely couldn't. Now I'm being kicked off the plane."
The agent said: "You're not being kicked off. I need to talk to you outside."
Speaking to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel later, Mr Hamilton said he had not used the restroom before boarding. "I don't normally pee right before I get on the plane, and I've never had a problem like this before. I don't remember drinking an abnormal amount of water."
He told the newspaper that he had made his way to a lavatory in the back of the plane, where a flight attendant told him if he used the restroom at that moment, the plane would lose its place in the line. He did not want to be a disturbance, he said, so he returned to his seat.
However, after more time sitting on the tarmac, he described it as an "emergency" situation and went to the restroom.
"The pilot came on and said, 'Ladies and gentlemen, I'm sorry for the inconvenience but we have to return to the gate and remove a passenger'," Mr Hamilton told the Sentinel. "It escalated to that point that fast."
Other passengers could be heard in the video wondering aloud why Mr Hamilton was seen as a problem. Some agreed with him that as soon as he stepped off the plane, it would take off without him.
"I haven't done anything. What have I done? If I can even understand what you've been told, we can have a human-to-human interaction," Mr Hamilton said, starting to show frustration.
"A situation is being created where everyone's on the plane and I'm holding the plane up, when I'm just asking to understand why I'm being asked to move."
After he continually refused to leave the plane, all passengers were told to leave the plane, but re-boarded soon after, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Mr Hamilton was reportedly not allowed back on the plane.
Delta did not respond to requests for comment, but told the Journal Sentinel in a statement: "Our flight crews are extensively trained to ensure the safety and security of all customers. It is imperative that passengers comply with crew instructions during all phases of flight, especially at the critical points of take-off and landing."
In an open letter to Delta, a woman who said she was a passenger on last week's flight called the incident "the most outrageous treatment of a paying customer that I have seen in my two decades of flying".