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Delta passenger upset after being mistaken for human trafficking victim

A Delta Air Lines passenger is upset after being mistaken for a human trafficking victim.

>> Read more trending news

Lawrenceville, Georgia, resident Stephanie Ung and her friend were returning from a birthday trip in Cancun and coming home to family on Thanksgiving when they were stopped and questioned by officials after the flight arrived in Atlanta. Her brother Henry Ung described the incident in a Facebook post alleging racial discrimination.

Stephanie Ung, a 26-year-old kindergarten teacher in Gwinnett County, said, “They just kept questioning me.”

“I was embarrassed at the airport,” Ung said. “I didn’t do anything wrong. ... This whole experience pretty much has me traumatized.”

>> On AJC.com: Airport training targets human trafficking

Delta said its flight attendants “are trained to look out for signs of possible trafficking.” Amid a campaign to stop human trafficking in Atlanta and beyond, some airline and airport workers have been trained to look out for such signs.

Delta said in a written statement the two women were “observed by another customer to not be in possession of their passports — a possible indicator of a human trafficking event. Delta took the concern seriously and contacted the appropriate authorities who addressed the customers upon landing.”

>> On AJC.com: Hartsfield-Jackson art exhibit focuses on human trafficking

“While their investigation did show that our customers were not being trafficked, we train our crew members to remain alert and use their professional experience and practice best judgment to ensure the safety of customers,” the airline said.

Delta also said: “We do not tolerate discrimination and are troubled by any accusations of discrimination. We have reached out to speak with our customers directly.”

NASA postpones JPSS-1 weather satellite launch

NASA, in partnership with the NOAA, scrubbed Tuesday’s launch of a weather satellite that will help improve weather forecasts due to a last-minute technical problem.

JPSS-1 is the first of a few polar orbiting satellites to launch from the Joint Polar Satellite System.

>> Read more trending news 

The satellites will help improve NOAA forecasts for the three- to seven-day time frame. The data collected from the JPSS is fed into the numerical forecast models to help improve them. The satellites will also collect atmospheric measurements, ground conditions and ocean conditions like vegetation, hurricane intensity, and atmospheric moisture.

The JPSS-1 was scheduled to be launched around 4:47 a.m. EST from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California. The launch has been postponed until Wednesday.

This satellite is a polar orbiting satellite, which means it will orbit the earth from the one pole to the other passing the equator 14 times a day. Full coverage of the planet will be provided then twice a day.

2 security officials fired after United Airlines passenger dragged off plane in viral video

Airport security officials who were caught on video in April forcibly removing a passenger from a United Airlines flight in Chicago have been disciplined. Two employees were fired and two suspended following the incident, which caused public outrage after the footage went viral, the Washington Post reports.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Man forcibly removed from flight after not voluntarily giving up seat

The fiasco became a huge public relations headache for United. In the videos, officers are seen aggressively grabbing a passenger — Dr. David Dao — who was reportedly selected at random to be removed from the overbooked flight so that his seat could be given to a United crew member.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: United passenger dragged from plane reaches settlement with airline

In a quarterly report, Chicago’s Office of the Inspector General found that a Chicago Department of Aviation security officer “improperly escalated the incident” and that a sergeant “made misleading statements” and “deliberately removed material facts” from employee reports on the April 9 incident aboard United Express Flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky. The first officer and the sergeant were fired, and another two officers involved in the incident were suspended — one of whom subsequently resigned, the report said.

>> Read more trending news 

The security officers “mishandled a non-threatening situation,” which led to the “violent” removal of the 69-year-old Dao, the inspector general’s report said. “The use of excessive force caused the passenger to hit his face on an armrest, resulting in a concussion, a broken nose and the loss of two teeth,” a news release accompanying the report stated.

Doctor saves woman overdosing on flight

A Boston cardiologist saved a passenger who passed out after a believed overdose 30,000 feet in the air.

>> Watch the news report here

Dr. Anil Punjabi was about to fall asleep on his flight from Boston to Minneapolis on Friday when he heard the Spirit Airlines attendant shouting for a doctor.

Other passengers alerted the crew when a woman a few rows back had been in the bathroom for a long time. When she got back, she was turning grey and slumped over, and passengers noticed she didn't have a pulse. Punjabi said he was working with an OBGYN nurse also on the flight to give her mouth-to-mouth CPR when they discovered a needle hidden in her bra.

"We were down on the ground within 25 minutes, but at that time she was completely unresponsive,” Punjabi said.

For those 25 minutes, the crew, Punjabi, the nurse and an EMT trainee all worked to keep the woman alive.

The situation is putting a spotlight on the gravity of the opioid epidemic in Boston.

It’s also raising serious concerns for Punjabi about whether action should be taken by airlines across the U.S. to prevent this from happening again. Punjabi and the crew kept the woman alive until the plane was on the ground 25 minutes later, but in other situations, that may not be possible, he said.

>> Read more trending news

"You need to talk to your union, you need to talk to Spirit, you need to talk to the company. I said the one thing you need to get in your med kit is Narcan,” Punjabi said.

Helen Tederous, the spokesperson for Buffalo Niagara International Airport, said a Boston flight bound for Minneapolis made an emergency landing in Buffalo on Friday night, and a woman was taken to the hospital for an overdose.

Needles are allowed on flights, but must be declared and screened through TSA. Click here for more information.

– WFXT has reached out to Spirit Airlines for comment on the incident and has not yet heard back.

Mom says baby overheated as United Airlines plane sat on tarmac for 2 hours

2017 is not a good year to be an airline company, especially if that company’s name is United Airlines. 

Passenger and mom Emily France said her baby became overheated recently on a delayed flight as the aircraft waited on the Denver International Airport (DIA) tarmac, reports the Denver Post. The 39-year-old said that passengers waited for more than two hours on the plane despite a heat wave in the area. France recalled “hot air coming from the vents.”

>> Read more trending news

“We just sat and sat and sat,” she said. “I hit my call button and said, ‘I think it’s getting dangerously hot back here.'”

France also said that despite requesting an ambulance, she had to wait for 30 minutes before she was allowed to leave the plane with her son, Owen.

“They couldn’t evacuate us. It was chaos. I really thought my son was going to die in my arms,” France said as she criticized the airline for not being prepared to handle her situation.

>> Man forcibly removed from flight after not voluntarily giving up seat

Owen was treated at a children’s hospital after the incident. Doctors said he suffered from the heat but thankfully remained unaffected by heat-related medical conditions.

DIA spokesman Heath Montgomery corroborated the call for an ambulance.

A representative for United emailed the following statement to the Denver Post:

"Yesterday, a child onboard flight 4644 at Denver International Airport experienced a medical issue while the aircraft was taxiing prior to takeoff. The pilot returned to the gate as our crew called for paramedics to meet the aircraft. Our thoughts are with the child and family, and we have been in contact to offer travel assistance."

Read more here.

Orlando airport standoff: Mother with children feared she'd be shot in the back

Operations at Florida's Orlando International Airport resumed as normal Wednesday morning, hours after the end of a standoff involving a 26-year-old man holding a fake gun, the Orlando Police Department said.

>> Watch the news report here

Michael Wayne Pettigrew was undergoing a psychological evaluation following the two-hour standoff during which he threatened to harm himself and pointed a fake gun at officers at a rental car area on the airport's ground floor, Orlando police Chief John Mina said.

>> Read more trending news

Police said that shortly before 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, they received a report that there was an armed man at the airport.

>> On WFTV.com: Watch: Passengers describe standoff at Orlando International Airport

"Our negotiators did a phenomenal job talking with the subject for about two hours and finally got him to peacefully surrender," Mina said.

The suspect surrendered at about 10 p.m.

Crystal Oliphant said she was picking up her husband from the airport Tuesday night.

>> On WFTV.com: Watch: Orlando police Chief John Mina news conference on OIA standoff

"(We were) terrified," she said. "Immediately, we think that there's a bomb or that there's a shooting going on. And we're not getting any information. And there's hundreds of police (officers) just coming in."

Passengers and employees bolted once they realized what was happening.

Witness Kim Turner told WFTV that she saw the suspect dressed in black but she couldn't make out his face because she was hiding with her two children.

>> On WFTV.com: Photos: Standoff at Orlando International Airport

Turner waited for an opportunity to run to safety, and when she did, she said she saw the suspect point what appeared to be a gun at his own head.

Although the gun was fake, it seemed very real to Turner.

"I actually had a thought of me getting shot in the back," she said. "I was standing here, literally just sitting here, looking at him, waiting, because everybody else is gone."

No one was injured in the incident.

Plane carrying 4 disappears over Bermuda Triangle; debris found

Members of the Coast Guard have located debris they believe belongs to a plane that was carrying a New Hampshire man and three others, including two children.

>> Watch the news report here

Nathan Ulrich from Lee, New Hampshire, was listed as the pilot for the plane, which was flying from Puerto Rico to Titusville, Florida, on Monday morning when it disappeared.

A businesswoman from New York, Jennifer Blumin, and her two young sons were passengers on the plane. Blumin was listed as the owner of the plane.

Ulrich is an engineer and the co-founder of a company that makes adult scooters. His ex-wife, actor Rae Dawn Chong, tweeted about what was happening Tuesday.

Ulrich's father, Gael, issued the following statement to WFXT:

"We were devastated and shocked to learn that Nathan, Jennifer and her children have been missing since leaving from Puerto Rico on Monday. Nathan is our beloved son, brother and uncle and we wish for resolution as the Coast Guard search continues. Our prayers and thoughts are with the Blumin family and James Ramsey in this difficult time.

>> Read more trending news

"We appreciate the respect for our privacy as we deal with the situation together with our family and prefer no further press contact. We appreciate the kind wishes and thoughts of those who have reached out to us."

The Coast Guard said it believes the debris is from the missing plane flown by Ulrich.

"Some of the helicopters that found the debris field yesterday, they were able to recover some components from the debris that we sent to the aircraft mechanic who confirmed they are from the same type of airplane as the missing airplane," Eric Woodall from the USCG said.

Flight attendants say air inside planes can be toxic

WSB-TV has learned that three airline crews in Atlanta in the past year had emergency medical care after they say fumes on board their planes made them sick.

The director of Georgia's Poison Control Center told WSB-TV’s Tom Regan that the agency received emergency calls three different times in the past year about flight crews falling ill at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

>> Watch the news report here

The jet engines that take you into the air also draw in the air you breathe.

Despite filters, that air sometimes contains invisible fumes that can sicken crews, drawing an emergency response at airports. 

Dr. Gaylord Lopez of the Georgia Poison Control Center told Regan, "We had 13 patients exposed over the past year related to airplane fumes."

He described the symptoms as "coughing, choking, gagging, wheezing, shortness of breath. One felt like they could not breathe anymore."

>> Read more trending news

Lopez said in one case, a ground supervisor also became ill.

"They went to investigate. They breathed the air and they got sickened as well," Lopez explained.

Pressurized cabin air is drawn through the jet's engines. It’s called bleed air. In the engine's oil is an additive called Tricresyl phosphate, or TCP.

If there's a leak or other mechanical issue, fumes from the chemical could circulate into the cabin, affecting passengers, but more often the flight crew.

"I couldn't think. I had nausea. I felt dizzy. I had a headache," said former flight attendant Vanessa Woods.

She said that when she worked for Alaska Airlines, she and three other flight attendants were taken to the hospital after breathing the fumes. The doctor said they had hydrocarbon exposure.

Woods says it has caused neurological issues that have made it impossible for her to work. She and the other flight attendants filed a lawsuit against Boeing, the manufacturer of the plane.

"I want Boeing to make changes. They need to put in sensor alarms, redesign the planes," Woods said.

ON WSBTV.com:

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In a statement, Boeing told Regan, "The air in our airplane cabins is safe. Boeing's bleed air systems meet all applicable FAA requirements, and an overwhelming body of scientific evidence confirms the safety."

"We know that pilots and flight attendants are getting sick from toxic fumes," Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants told WSB-TV.

Based on a 2016 study from Kansas State University, the flight attendants union estimates there are five fume events each day on airlines worldwide. Most are minor, but the union says there's a risk.

"It's a real concern. Because if a crew member can become incapacitated, and there's a pilot flying the plane, that can be very dangerous to everyone on board," Nelson said.

A WSB-TV investigative producer dug through FAA reports and found more than 100 possible fume events on commercial airlines in the past year. In nine cases, illnesses were reported. The reports filed with the FAA come from a variety of airlines and a variety of planes.

>> ON WSBTV.com: PHOTOS: "The Dirty Dozen" airplanes with the most reported fume events in the past year

"We know that it happened, not only with crews, but passengers that might be closer to the front part of the plane because of the way air circulates and where it starts coming into the plane," Lopez told Regan.

The FAA told WSB-TV that fume events are rare considering the millions of flights in the U.S. every year. The agency also says cabin air is as good or better than the air found in offices or homes.

But the flight's attendants union says more can be done to ensure the safety of the crew and passengers.

“The only way to solve this issue is to build aircraft with alternative air circulation means," Nelson said.

The Boeing 787 is the only commercial plane that doesn't use a bleed-air system.

The flight attendants union says it's working with Congress to require new fume sensors and filters on airplanes. Airbus, like Boeing, says its cabin air is safe.

In response to WSB-TV’s report that Spirit Airlines had 11 out of the top 12 planes with the highest number of reported fume events in the last year, a spokesperson sent the following response:

"Thank you for taking the time to look into this issue. As you heard from the FAA, these events are very rare. To show the rarity of such events, in the time frame you researched (since May 1, 2016), we have had well over 150,000 individual flights, of which 41 have had an odor event. That’s a ratio of 0.000027 of flights. The reason you see more reports of odor events on Spirit aircraft is because we aggressively report our incidents. We have encouraged other airlines to also report their incidents, as well, with the hope of better research and understanding the root causes. While these odor events are very rare, we take each and every incident that takes place on one of our aircraft very seriously. In fact, Spirit is an industry leader in investigating and researching the various causes of these odor events. We have invested substantial dollars on detection equipment to help detect particulates that cause odor events on aircraft. We have also installed a new, more robust air filters on our planes in an effort to reduce the frequency of such events.

"It’s important to note that odor events happen to every airline and every type of aircraft that uses bleed air, and has been an issue in the industry for decades. To call these fume events is mostly hyperbole. There are many reasons the air odor on aircraft can change. It could be because planes are flying through rain clouds and moisture gets into the aircraft's air system; foul odor outside the aircraft that gets through air filters; and yes, it could be because oil or hydraulic fluid odors get past air filters and into the bleed air. All sources of foul odor can be uncomfortable for passengers and crew – but to say these odors are toxic fumes or harmful – is an overstatement. That said, we understand the concern people may have regarding such odors, and that is why Spirit is leading the industry in trying to understand the root causes of the different odor events, with a goal of preventing and hopefully eliminating them in the future."

American Airlines, which also had one plane in the top 12, sent this statement:

"The health and welfare of our crews and customers continues to be our top priority at American Airlines. We take cabin odor issues seriously and have devoted extensive efforts over time, including working with aircraft, engine and auxiliary power unit manufacturers, to address these types of concerns. Our Technical Operations team actively monitors and conducts in-depth inspections whenever a cabin odor event is reported by one of our crewmembers. Our team members are encouraged to report any issues so that we can make improvements to their work environment."

United CEO's internal email describes man dragged off flight as 'disruptive,' 'belligerent'

After disturbing videos surfaced of a passenger being dragged off a plane because the flight was overbooked, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz told employees that he "emphatically" stands behind them in an internal email circulated to United Airlines employees and acquired by CNBC.

>> Man forcibly removed from flight after not voluntarily giving up seat on overbooked flight

Munoz’s public apology, also reported earlier Monday by NBC News, read:

“This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened. We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation.”

But in an email circulated to employees Monday, Munoz opened with, “Like you, I was upset to see and hear what happened last night,” and wrote that "the facts and circumstances are still evolving, especially with respect to why this passenger defied Chicago Aviation Security Officers."

Munoz wrote that the “situation was unfortunately compounded when one of the passengers we asked to deplane refused” and that employees “followed established procedures.”

>> When can an airline force a ticketed passenger off a plane?

"While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right,” Munoz also wrote before including a brief summary of internal reports of the incidents. “I do, however, believe there are lessons we can learn from this experience, and we are taking a close look at the circumstances surrounding this incident. Treating our customers and each other with respect and dignity is at the core of who we are, and we must always remember this no matter how challenging the situation."

The United CEO added that the passenger at the center of the video, who said he was a doctor and had patients to see the following morning, was “disruptive and belligerent.” He said the airline “sought volunteers” before they followed an “involuntary denial of boarding process.”

>> Watch the news report here

– The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

TSA screener fired after woman gets loaded gun through airport security

WSB-TV has confirmed that the Transportation Security Administration fired a screener who missed a loaded handgun in a passenger’s carry-on bag Sunday morning at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

According to an Atlanta police incident report, Katrina Jackson, of Hoover, Alabama, discovered the handgun as she checked her purse for her passport at the gate.

“There’s one thing if you’re missing something suspicious. This was a handgun, so this is a big deal that this got through the TSA screening process,” security expert Brent Brown said.

>> Watch the news report here

Jackson told police about the gun, and officers showed up at the gate to confiscate her gun and her bag.

Jackson told them that she had a permit to carry from Alabama but did not have it with her.

Police arrested her. She is charged with unlawful possession of a handgun.

“I mean, she violated the law, so we have consequences,” passenger Melissa Monroe said.

A TSA spokesperson sent the following statement: “This egregious mistake was unacceptable and the officer, who was still a probationary employee, was immediately and permanently separated from federal service.”

>> Read more trending news

According to TSA, a screener’s probationary period lasts two years.

“We don’t know who else might have gotten through. This one person fortunately turned around and reported herself, but how many of these types of things get through all the time?” Brown said.

WSB-TV’s Aaron Diamant learned that TSA screeners detected 198 guns at Atlanta’s airport in 2016, more than any other U.S. airport.

Screeners have found 48 guns so far this year, including seven during the same week that the screener missed Jackson’s gun.

“This is a crazy world we live in, so, you know, things happen, and if it’s our time, it’s our time. But they’re doing a good job. I think they’re doing a good job,” passenger Tiffany Clinton said.

WSB-TV was unable to contact Jackson. The Clayton County solicitor general is handling her case.

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