25 September 2013 - 9:28am | posted by | 36 comments

EasyJet under fire after claims it refused to let The Drum columnist Mark Leiser on board for sending critical tweet

Tweets: Mark Leiser's Twitter profileTweets: Mark Leiser's Twitter profile

EasyJet is at the centre of fierce criticism after The Drum’s tech law columnist Mark Leiser tweeted that an easyJet manager had stopped him boarding a flight because he’d criticised the airline on Twitter.

Leiser, who also edits The Firm magazine and is based in Scotland, was booked on the 9.20pm flight from Glasgow to London but it was hit by delays. He tweeted late on Tuesday night that delays had prevented a serving soldier - who was on route to take part in active service - making an essential travel connection and easyJet had refused to help pay to get him to his destination.

A short time later, he tweeted that he’d then been told by a manager that he couldn’t board a flight because: “You’re a lawyer. You know you can’t tweet stuff like that and expect to get on an easyJet flight.”

“I put out a tweet about it and then when I got in the queue, and a member of staff approached me and asked if she could have a quick word," Leiser explained. "She said she understood I’d said something on social media about easyJet and then told me they were not allowing me to board the flight.

“I said you’re kidding me; I asked where that had come from and she told me I should know I’m not allowed to do that. I was stunned. I told her I didn’t really understand what she was telling me and she said: ‘You’re not allowed to talk about easyJet like that and then expect to get on a flight’.”

“She then asked me to step out of the queue and repeated that she was not letting me on the flight. I told her she’d better get somebody down to discuss this and she told me the manager was on his way to speak to me. Then she told said she couldn’t believe I thought what I’d done was appropriate. I was just sitting there in disbelief.

“So the the manager arrived and told me that based on my tweet they couldn’t let me board the flight because I wasn’t allowed to do that and I should know better. He then called over to the girl on the counter to instruct my bags be taken off the flight. It wasn’t until I asked him if he’d heard of free speech that the tone changed. He asked me if I was a lawyer and I told him I taught law at Strathclyde.

"He quickly had a word with his staff and then told me I’d better get on the flight because they were waiting for me. If I hadn’t had my ID badge I don’t think he’d have let me on the flight."

The news quickly spread on Twitter with Leiser’s tweet being retweeted 481 times.

A spokeswoman for easyJet denied that the airline would deny boarding based on social media criticism but said the company could not discuss an individual customer's case.

"EasyJet has never denied boarding due to comments on social media. On the rare occasion that we consider denying boarding it is on the basis of disruptive behaviour," she said. However, the airline did respond to Leiser via a tweet to apologise.

Comments

25 Sep 2013 - 13:51
antho10048's picture

Nice work budget airline types! ; ) did the solider make it to his 'essential travel destination' and if so will easyJet retrospectively reimburse him as an act of good will?

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25 Sep 2013 - 14:51
colinbancmedia's picture

Straight from the RyanAir school of customer service...

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26 Sep 2013 - 11:47
inbox26126's picture

@colinbancmedia Oh please don't compare them to Ryan-Air, that would be below the belt!!

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25 Sep 2013 - 15:56
adam_gordon's picture

What's the evidence this actually happened?

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26 Sep 2013 - 10:39
marcu12908's picture

@adam_gordon Where's the evidence that you actually exist, Adam?

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28 Sep 2013 - 01:47
KennyFlys

"Journalists" do not need evidence. We're supposed to take them at their word. Riiiight! @adam_gordon

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25 Sep 2013 - 16:03
mokane9

Easyjet is not a regulated utility. They do not have to provide service to everyone. If they decide to refuse service to a lawyer, or all lawyers, it is within their rights. Lawyers are not a protected class. Mr. Leiser, have you ever heard of "freedom of contract"?

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26 Sep 2013 - 01:32
break18318's picture

@mokane9 I'm QUITE SURE he has. ALSO, everyone else has the right to NEVER FLY with a-holes like that.

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26 Sep 2013 - 13:03
gophu11859's picture

But they are a common carrier and have to meet minimum requirements on providing service to the public. For example, they cannot deny service to people because they wear beards

@mokane9

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27 Sep 2013 - 00:36
benjamindickson940

Mr Mokane, Have you ever heard of violation of contract? Denying a person service for arbitrary and capricious reasons after they had purchased a ticket at the very least makes the airline liable for the cost of his ticket. In addition, it is poor customer service and downright rude. Now due to the fine print, he almost certainly had no legal recourse aside from recovering the cost of his ticket, but it is still an extremely valid complaint about their lack of service.

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25 Sep 2013 - 16:21
ATurt16435's picture

I assume that you had paid for a ticket and it was not a "comp". Therefore you had a contract with easyJet to carry you on the flight - sounds like a legal case there. (I'm not a lawyer so I wouldn't know)

The initial tweet (if that's the one about the soldier) seems to me to be a comment on the situation that a fellow passenger was in and Mr Leiser's rightful indignation on behalf of the serviceman.

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25 Sep 2013 - 22:03
zvite66079's picture

Damn. Hope this will not pass by and be forgotten easily... On a side note, a few days back I traveled via easy jet with my girlfriend. On the way to our destination, she was charged 50 € because her luggage supposedly didn't fit into the required dimensions to go in the cabin. She didn't really try that hard that time, and just assumed the trolly wheels were a problem. On the way back I stuffed it in that compartment use to check the size, and we didn't have to pay anything. Seems like a really clever way to extract money from people, and a lot of money at it. Almost cost as much as the ticket itself. Oh wait no, we had to make a change to the return flight and paid a 90 € fee + the flight cost. That fee also cost more than the flight itself. A great system they have there..

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26 Sep 2013 - 03:01
kevinanthonynelson

When will people become aware that "Low Cost" airlines are not low cost! Most people book on line choose their flight then they are bombarded with extras; Insurance, Car Rental, Hotel Accommodation, Hold Baggage, Seat Allocation Fee, then to save their printer ink and paper you have to print your own boarding card! Generally, prior to boarding you are herded into what resembles cattle pens and then you walk through the usually torrential rain because it is too expensive for them to want to utilise airbridges! Once on board you are further ripped off by the extortionate prices of their food and beverages! Low cost is a thing of the past a copy of South Western Airlines. If you want my advice go for what once was called the High Cost Carrier as they are a lot cheaper in the long run! Happy Flying

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26 Sep 2013 - 04:00
Walte81186's picture

I hate to say it, but I'm on the EasyJet side. The lawyer guy sounds like a total jerk. I always explain business to my kids in terms of a lemonade stand. If I had a lemonade stand and some guy stood in front of it telling people my lemonade was bad, I sure wouldn't sell him a glass when he asked to buy some. Why do people expect their tweets to be free from repercussions?

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26 Sep 2013 - 06:04
askorstad

@Walte81186 Except EasyJet already sold him the lemonade, took his money before trying to forbid him from drinking it

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26 Sep 2013 - 12:40
cline10616's picture

So Walt, what do you tell kids about when you are selling lemonade at the lemonade stand and the lemonade is really late to a customer who already paid for it, and while handing that lemonade to the customer you spill it on their pants and you're like, my-bad but I'm not paying for that, and another customer says, "dude, that's rude, you should pay"? Do you tell them sorry dad's sorry for being a jerk and fix it or do you teach them to not fix their mistake and lose more customers as well? Sounds like you likely haven't even successfully ever a lemonade stand. @Walte81186

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26 Sep 2013 - 13:08
gophu11859's picture

@cline10616 actually, walte bought the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday

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26 Sep 2013 - 13:06
gophu11859's picture

@Walte81186 because that is the law! I hope the fellow sues the excrementless.

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27 Sep 2013 - 10:16
rober85983's picture

@Walte81186 I think the problem in your case is that you think everything in business is analogous to a lemonade stand.

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27 Sep 2013 - 13:11
brianmacker5

@Walte81186 Wrong, if he is wrong you sell him a glass because it shows he's a hipocrite and not to be listened to, or if he's right then you improve your product.

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27 Sep 2013 - 14:12
halla17481's picture

@Walte81186 The real problem here is that EasyJet hire cheap staff with limited intelligence. I don't fly budget carriers because the only way to save real money on flying aircraft is to cut corners on safety and maintenance. Just wait till RyanAir has a big crash.

The law is very clearly on Leiser's side, EasyJet had contracted to convey him to his destination and was refusing to fulfill their contract obligations.

The terms of the contract almost certainly did not give EasyJet the right to void the contract under these circumstances. Even if it had, terms of that type have been routinely dismissed by courts as unenforceable restraint on public speech. And in any case the airline is a common carrier and so the terms of the contract are regulated.

Businesses are not above the law, nor is the law written exclusively for business interests like many Republicans and so-called 'Libertarians' seem to believe.

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26 Sep 2013 - 05:07
bwohlgemuth

How did EasyJet get the tweet, figure out who the heck it was, and then pick out the right guy and deny him boarding? Most airlines can barely tell the difference between a passenger and a turnip.

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27 Sep 2013 - 13:07
brianmacker5

@bwohlgemuth I'm interested in knowing that too. Maybe he pulled the, "Please help this man or I'm going to ..." because how else would they find out?

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5 Oct 2013 - 20:40
federicolovat

in fact this whole story smells like hoax from a mile @bwohlgemuth

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26 Sep 2013 - 08:46
anona11158's picture

Uh, what? You are a lawyer? Then you should know that freedom of speech (generally speaking) is not a right which exists in the context of private actors; and instead requires "state action". As a previous poster suggested, perhaps there would be some sort of breach of contract claim at the point where they kicked you off; but there would absolutely not be any sort of claim for 1st Amendment violation. By way of common sense example, I cannot walk into a Starbucks and start shouting about how awful their coffee is, and expect to still get served coffee. See "state action" at wikipedia if you are interested in getting into (somewhat complicated) this topic a bit more.

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27 Sep 2013 - 12:34
humdrum's picture

@anona11158 so many things wrong with what you just said.

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27 Sep 2013 - 13:04
brianmacker5

@anona11158 Not exactly true. A private actor can't arbitrarily break a contract because they don't like how someone is exercising their free speech rights. Also they cannot refuse service to someone because they say something like, "I like black people", or "Gays should be allowed to marry". Also this was not in US so rules there are different.

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18 Oct 2013 - 04:34
whate74669's picture

@anona11158 - It's idiots like you that make all Americans look stupid. Hello idiot?!!! This happened in the U.K.! There is no 1st Amendment MORON!!!!!!!

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26 Sep 2013 - 09:47
sewingprincess1

EU Regulation No 261/2004 on denied boarding shall be applicable in the event that happens. Compensation shall be paid by the airline! http://eur-lex.europa.eu/smartapi/cgi/sga_doc?smartapi!celexplus!prod!CE...

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26 Sep 2013 - 14:32
Jerem19527's picture

Has EasyJet acknowledged that the event took place? Any official statement from them? I'd love to know what happening to the staff members involved. Sounds like Customer Service training all round!

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26 Sep 2013 - 21:20
juand63165's picture

Gee! Why didn't Leiser take the free market approach to this alledged problem and take his money to another airline instead whining about?

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27 Sep 2013 - 12:58
brianmacker5

@juand63165 He did take the free market approach. In a free market you are allowed to share your experiences. You also can expect that contractual obligatiins are met.

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27 Sep 2013 - 14:05
green99557's picture

When you book with any budget airline, you take the good with the bad. They cut out all the costs they can including compensation in terms of different flights, hotels, taxis or other back-ups. You accept that when you book. So it is ridiculous to start tweeting on behalf of someone else when mechanical problems or bad weather affects schedules. If you want full back up services, then pay the premium by booking a flight with full cost airline. Easyjet is an excellent low cost airline using good aircraft and employing good staff at all levels but occasionally things will go wrong. Just remember that you did not sign up to a full cost airline.

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27 Sep 2013 - 17:49
flyin29859's picture

If I owned an airline, my policy would be NO LAWYERS. In fact I think I would call it NoLawyersAir. I find it abit amazing all these people taking sides with a whining little socialmedia using lawyer. NoLawyersAir!!! Who wants to invest (vote by giving me a thumbs down)?

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28 Sep 2013 - 09:05
adam_gordon's picture

I see the protagonist in this article describes himself as "part of Angry Mob". That translates to me as "looking for trouble". This isn't the first time he's got himself involved in controversy on Twitter; last time was much worse. It smacks of desperate for fun, fame and followers; which he'll have received in abundance. This isn't credible as far as I'm concerned. We all come across bad service. This is just effective attention-seeking.

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14 Oct 2013 - 10:43
ventz12792's picture

In 5ovieT Ru55iA airlines tweet about you!

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