Michael Nissensohn says he shot a “selfie” video on a flight from West Palm Beach and wound up being escorted off and handed to police when it landed in New York.
“I was humiliated. I felt like a criminal,” he said Wednesday.
He recalled that, as it was happening, he couldn’t help but comment to flight attendants about the timing.
“I said, ‘I know you’re a little on edge because of the United thing.’ ”
That would be this month’s incident in which Chicago police dragged a man — also, coincidentally, a doctor — off an overbooked United Airlines flight, with resulting viral video and maximum corporate embarrassment.
Nissensohn did say a JetBlue supervisor later told him the flight attendants were wrong to say he couldn’t shoot video.
JetBlue spokesman Philip Stewart told the Palm Beach Post in an emailed statement Tuesday only that the airline was “looking into this case,” and that “our crew members use their professional judgment in evaluating the appropriate use of photography or videography on board, especially when it involves the privacy of other customers and the safe and secure operations of the flight.”
Nissensohn, a semi-retired gastroenterologist from Rhode Island, had been staying since Jan. 3 at the suburban Delray Beach home of an aunt he’s been helping since the death of her husband, his uncle.
He said he flew Saturday morning on JetBlue to New York visit his son, a banker, and his 86-year-old mother.
In mid-flight, he said, he had a funny exchange with a flight attendant after he returned to his seat from the lavatory with toilet paper on his shoe. Nissensohn, whose father was in World War II, said he sometimes makes humorous videos and sends them to disabled veterans. So he decided to record something.
“I don’t want to go to the pokey for stealing a few sheets of toilet paper,” he’s seen faux-pleading on the video.
Next thing, he knew, he recalled Wednesday, “a young stewardess behind me says, ‘Sir, I need to take your cellphone. You can’t take pictures on the airplane.’ ”
He said the flight attendant with which he’d just joked told him the same thing.
He said he stayed calm — “I’ve done 40,000 to 50,000 colonoscopies” — and told the crew he’d done nothing wrong and wasn’t about to hand over his phone. He suggested they talk either to the pilots or their control center. He said he did turn off and put away the phone, the flight attendants withdrew and he took a nap.
When he landed at La Guardia Airport, he said, the flight attendant from the toilet paper encounter announced that all passengers should stay seated, then pointed to him.
“He comes over and says, ‘You. Out of the airplane.’ ”
Nissensohn said he was escorted off and walked to two police officers, who spent nearly an hour talking to him, the crew, and other passengers before letting him leave.
Almost immediately, he said, he was on the phone with JetBlue. He said a supervisor told him the cabin crew was acting on bad information.
He said he told the woman, “I don’t want money and I’m not a litigious person.” Instead, he recalled having read Palm Beach Post stories about Honor Flight, which takes World War II veterans to Washington D.C. for the day. He said he suggested JetBlue donate 100 seats for a future flight. He said the supervisor told him that wasn’t possible and that JetBlue already does things for veterans.
Nissensohn said he flew back to PBIA on Monday without incident.