December 6, 2009, - 3:32 pm

Why is AirTran Lying About & Attacking Its Customers?: The Answers, Documents AirTran Won’t Provide

By Debbie Schlussel

Why is AirTran lying about its passengers?  And why would you believe the company that refuses to answer important questions or release documents to back up their claims?  The airline may face a lawsuit, which will finally uncover the proof that a dry run was conducted by 11 Muslim men, and it tried to force passengers to fly with them, anyway.


As readers know, on Thursday, I posted an e-mail written by Tedd J. Petruna, a NASA employee who was on AirTran Flight 297 from Atlanta to Houston on November 17th of this year.

He recounted in the e-mail–which he never intended to go public all around the internet–how 11 Middle Eastern men, likely Muslims, conducted what appeared to be a dry run.  He wrote the e-mail to dispute the lie AirTran told the press that the flight was canceled because a man refused to stop talking on his cell phone.  AirTran, by the way, has never released the name of that man.  (Gee, could it be because his name is Mohammed or Ahmed, and he isn’t  “a Spanish gentleman” as the airline claims?  Hey, Spanish, Muslim–“they all look alike,” right AirTran?)

Since then, I noted that Chaplain Dr. Keith A. Robinson has come forth to describe his experience as a passenger on that same flight, writing about it and giving an exclusive interview to nationally syndicated radio talk show host, Steve Gill.

And now, the long knives of AirTran public relations have come out.  AirTran told the Atlanta Urinal-Constipation, er . . . Journal-Constitution that Petruna was not on the flight (well, at least in this case, there’s no constipation, as the paper is full of crap).  And instantly, everyone believes AirTran, without seeing the official passenger manifest or any documentation whatsoever.  Everyone, except me and most of my readers (not the trolls who are now commenting).

Tedd Petruna tells me he was indeed on the flight and, afterward, wrote a long report for the airline about what happened on the flight.  He says he’s shocked that AirTran is saying the TSA officials were never there, that the airline has the guts to flat out deny what happened on that flight and in the aftermath.  There are plenty of records of his being on the flight and what happened, and he’s considering suing AirTran for lying about it and defaming him.  Petruna predicted he’d be attacked for telling the truth about what happened on Flight 297, and he was right.  But he told me that he never thought AirTran would lie and claim he wasn’t on the flight.

In my view, it’s not up to Tedd Petruna to prove  he was on the flight.  It’s AirTran’s move to prove he wasn’t.  Merely saying so (and lying) isn’t enough.

Since the AJC’s report of AirTran’s lie, er . . . “claim” that Petruna wasn’t on Flight 297 on November 17th, I’ve come under attack by mostly far-left blogs, like Daily Kos, Democratic Underground, Joshua Micah Marshall and his Talking Points Memo, and the like, and many of their blind follower trolls have posted attack comments on this site.  I find that extremely interesting, since this bunch is almost always anti-corporate America.  They never believe a single thing an American corporation says and always see the worst in them, including cover-ups (like this one).  But suddenly, when it will help lull us back into the pretense that Muslims are not a threat in America and aren’t constantly planning attacks on planes and elsewhere and testing the system, these far-lefties have put blind faith into the claims of AirTran, a corporation.

But I don’t put blind faith into it.  Sooner or later, crew members who left Flight 297 and refused to fly–and who had to be replaced–will come out and tell the truth about what happened on that flight.  Sooner or later, AirTran and the TSA will have to release documents detailing what happened on that flight, documents that will include Tedd Petruna’s report they asked him to write for them, and the agreement they forced him to sign agreeing not to speak about what happened to the media, while they “investigated” . . . and apparently while they engaged in character assassination of their customers.

But the fact is, you don’t cancel a flight, and a crew doesn’t refuse to fly a plane because a man refused to stop talking on his cell phone and was escorted off the plane.  That’s clearly not what happened on Flight 297.  Yet, that was the lie AirTran told the press.  And AirTran is consistent.  The airline is still lying.  And it’s story is constantly changing.  First, it was one man who wouldn’t get off his cellphone.  Now, it’s a whole group of “Spanish-speaking men.”  Uh-huh.  Sure.

Here are the questions and documents on which AirTran has yet to be forthcoming:

1)  A full passenger manifest for Flight 297 from November 17th:  I’d bet it will not only show that Tedd Petruna was on the flight, but also that at least 11 men with Middle-Eastern and/or Muslim names were on it, too.  I doubt there will be 11 “Spanish” names on the manifest.  If AirTran has privacy concerns about passenger’s names, the Airline certainly didn’t have any privacy concerns about releasing (and faking) Tedd Petruna’s itinerary without his premission.  Sorry, I don’t believe AirTran, and I’m not going to take it’s word that Petruna wasn’t on the flight.  I need to see the official manifest, with proof that it wasn’t doctored.

2)  The name of the passenger AirTran claims was the reason the flight was cancelled–the man who refused to stop talking on his cellphone.

3)  The names and contact information of all crew members of AirTran Flight 297 from November 17th, including the first crew that got off the plane and refused to fly.

4)  Why did AirTran cancel Flight 297 on November 17th, if it was just a problem of a man not talking on his cell phone?  Once he was escorted off the flight, why didn’t they fly?  AirTran officials were willing to suffer the cost of a canceled flight because a passenger wouldn’t get off his cell phone?  If you believe that, I have some land on the runway at Atlanta Hartsfield to sell you.

5)  Why did an entire flight crew, including the captain and co-pilot, get off the flight and refuse to fly, if it was merely a problem of a single passenger refusing to stop talking on his cellphone?  Why was the entire crew replaced?

Why would AirTran lie and resort to attacking its own passengers, its own customer base?  It’s all about money.  No-one wants to fly on an airline that tries to force its passengers to fly with terrorists, even after the crew has evacuated the plane and refuses to fly it.  No-one wants to fly on an airline that cares that little about the safety of its passengers.

And, now, no-one should want to fly on an airline that will go so far to cover it up–so far to pretend that a dry run or testing the system of some sort was not conducted on its flight by 11 Muslim passengers–that it will now attack its passengers and engage in the character assassination of its customers.

I certainly won’t.


By the way, Tedd Petruna admits that he is unsure of some details in his e-mail–and e-mail he never intended to be distributed throughout the internet, like that the men were Muslim as opposed to “Arabic.”  But how many men speaking Arabic, conducting a dry run of a hijacking are Christian Arabs?  In the old days, yes, there were Christian Arab terrorists, like George Habash of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and others.  But today, they are either Muslims or working for them.  It was a fair assumption on Petruna’s part, and likely an accurate observation.

But we’ll never know for sure, until AirTran voluntarily releases the passenger manifest . . . or it comes out as part of discovery in a lawsuit, the latter of which is more likely to happen.

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268 Responses

Billy, I have NEVER heard AirTran deny an incident took place. In fact, just the opposite. Look at the original report on November 19. From the AJC article 11/18/09…

“AirTran gave the 72 other passengers on the plane the option to stay on that flight or switch to another one without paying any fees, White said. Of the remaining passengers on the plane, 12 decided to take another flight.

The 11 others in the 13-passenger group got back on the plane, which took off for Houston, White said. TSA officials spoke to the man with the electronic device as well as the other person who was acting as an interpreter, and they took a later flight to Houston, White said.”

See? AirTran reported the incident. They made themselves available for comment. They offered passengers the option to take another flight–at no cost. And they thoroughly DEBUNKED Tedd Petruna’s racist account when it surfaced. Exactly when will the madness end?

Also, can you comment as to whether or not Obama is a US citizen? A simple yes or no would suffice.

Henry on December 8, 2009 at 1:35 pm


    They actually offered to allow the passengers to change planes after being traumatized and a ywo hour delay AT NO COST ? WOW !!!!

    AirTran says 72 on the flight. Passengers or souls. Did that number include flight attendants and cabin crew? 72 and only 12 got off. I got money that says it was higher. Regardless 11 of the passengers that got BACK ON were of the group that was causing the trouble. I suppose they had no issues flying with themselves.

    Obama? You can’t be serious. You want to engage in political discussion on Obama in a thread that should trancend politics? Sorry, I can’t oblige you there. I would be happy to outside this thread but now is iot the time or place for that, beside’s that’ll really bring out the nutjobs as if this hasn’t already.

    Billy on December 8, 2009 at 1:49 pm

Billy, I just don’t buy it. And you know exactly which radio clowns and talk show hosts that would cover this if it passed the smell test. You don’t think they’ve had field producers look into this? There’s just no “there” there. Seriously, it’s over.

If asking you to say that our American President is a citizen is too ‘hot potato’ for you, we have nothing left to talk about. It’s sad.

Henry on December 8, 2009 at 2:04 pm

An observation. I went through a similar back and forth were two muslim men were arrested in what has become known a s the Goose Creek incident. People swore on a stack of Bibles that these two were just a couple of waywad college kids with fireworks in the trunk. It took ahile but my suspicions that they were up to a little more than that were vindicated. It’ll be interesting to se how this palys out. Although instead of hoping I’m right, I pray to God I’m wrong.

Billy on December 8, 2009 at 2:07 pm

Yeah, two idiots with pipe bombs. But hardly a breakup of a terrorist atack.

-Richard Poplawski killed 3 Pittsburgh police officers in April because he thought Obama was going ot take his guns away.

-Scott Roeder killed a doctor in his own church while handing out bulletins last summer. He believed God justified the murder because the doctor provided abortions.

-Jim Adkisson killed 2 members of a Tennessee church watching a children’s play because he hated gays and liberals. He later said he wished he could kill a list of 100 people, from Bernie Goldberg’s book.

ALL of these were on our own soil and very recent. Now you tell me, Billy. What is terrorism?

Henry on December 8, 2009 at 3:01 pm


    19 Muslims evicerated 2,996 Americans and others flying four airliners into buildings and farm fields on September 11th, 2001. In case you forgot.

    That’s terrorism.

    Billy on December 8, 2009 at 3:26 pm

@Jarhead – No shit sherlock, the whole comment was sarcasm, but plenty of people just like Debbie equate turban=muslim. Or did the last phrase fly right over your head too?

JB on December 8, 2009 at 3:10 pm

JB – most people know that muzzies don’t wear turbans on their heads. Muzzies wear rags on their heads, hence the term raghead.

Jarhead on December 8, 2009 at 3:16 pm

Billy, I have tried to remain civil with you, I truly have. But to bring up the specter of the greatest single terrorist attack [I won’t mention who was President when it occurred] to refute my counterpoint to your silly Goose Creek incident is a disservice to your cause.

I lived two blocks south of Ground Zero for 3 years. The second plane flew over my apartment. And I still live in NYC to this day.

Don’t you dare use the tragedy of that day in this way. You sully the memories of all those we lost on that day. How dare you?

Henry on December 8, 2009 at 3:37 pm


    Really, How dare me? Well Henry, I happen to be from Brooklyn and I had a few dogs in that fight myself. I also have friends in the airlines who had flown out of Newark that morning and were in the air in the Northeast corridor when the attacks were taking place. So don’t give me your high and mighty statements that it rattled the windows of your apartment. How dare you think you were the only one affected that day and the subsequent days of digging remains out of “The Pile”.

    And the Goose creek duo? You’re wrong. There was alot more to it than that and if you followed it you are either lying or your sources were mis-informed. Besides, convictions of a lesser charge in an incident than what someone’s intentions were are a misleading barometer of what potentially may have been averted, but you seem content with trivializing and discounting threats when you see them.

    Billy on December 8, 2009 at 3:50 pm

I am doing the opposite. I am not claiming a mantle of being the only one allowed to grieve. But don’t use it so flippantly here.

We were all scarred, Billy. All of us.


I’m sorry for your loss, bro. We’re all in this together, okay? Let us remember that.

Henry on December 8, 2009 at 4:15 pm


    I brought it up because you asked me what terrorism was. It is glaringly apparent to me on this site’s comment section and hundreds of others that day has been forgotten, trivialized, or completely ignored.

    That my friend, is the saddest part of all.

    Billy on December 8, 2009 at 4:22 pm

I wouldnt argue with some of that. But there are also a whole lot of us who remember it, but want to live our lives preserving the very fabric of this great country that made it a target.

Individual Freedom. Justice. Liberty For All.

So when we are told that in order to protect us, we must torture men. We must hold men without trial. We must debase the very code of honor that makes us American. Well that makes an American like myself say No.

We are America. We don’t torture. We uphold the Constitution. We give men due process. I wish THESE things had not been forgotten by our fellow citizenry.

Henry on December 8, 2009 at 4:46 pm


On my 10:57 pm from last night, I thought that I was reporting something new when I reported on how the Daily Kos was one reason that trolls/haters were on this site. I just took a closer at Debbie’s post above and found that she had already reported on this, as well as several other left-wing websites that have attacked her. My apologies to Debbie for my not seeing this the first time around.

JeffE on December 8, 2009 at 8:03 pm

And, how about this little gem….Same dat as the Airtran incident…..

Breaking News, Pennsylvania »
Unruly passenger removed from flight bound for London from Philadelphia
By The Associated Press
November 17, 2009, 9:52AM
A U.S. Airways airliner en route from Philadelphia to London made an unscheduled stop in Boston Monday after the pilot deemed a passenger’s behavior unruly and decided to have him removed from the plane.

John Alexander Murray, of Glasgow, Scotland, was arrested shortly after flight 728 landed at Logan International Airport at 11:08 p.m. Monday, said airport spokesman Phil Orlandella. The plane departed for London two hours later, Orlandella said.

Murray, 50, was being held in Boston early Tuesday. Orlandella said he was arrested for interfering with a flight crew. It wasn’t clear if he had been charged, and police weren’t immediately available for comment. ¶

U.S. Airways spokesman Todd Lehmacher said the pilot decided to land the plane in Boston and have Murray removed before beginning the trans-Atlantic crossing “in the interest of safety.”

Neither Lehmacher nor Orlandella could say what kind of disturbance Murray is alleged to have caused on the flight. Lehmacher said there doesn’t appear to have been any kind of terrorist threat

So,….apparently we only arrest unruly Scottish passengers. No problem naming names there!!!!!

Billy on December 9, 2009 at 1:06 am

Someone needs to check their facts before ranting in a blog, Ms. Debbie Schlussel. go to to verify that Airtran Airways flight # 297 was not cancelled. This is not an Airtran site, it is an tracking website for all commericial U.S. flights. The flight was delayed as Airtran stated. So I am going to have to support Airtran on this one.

You want Airtran to list a full passenger manifest for the flight. Why should the company release private information about other passengers. Do you even know what information is listed on a passenger manifest?

Why are you so quick to believe this one individual? Who is to say he isn’t an unhappy airline passenger trying to “pay back” some wrong he incurred from this airline? What documentation does he have to support his fact?

1. The flight was not cancelled, only delayed, as stated by Airtran.

2. Whao?!?! because someone spoke Arabic they are a terrorist? As per your blog: By the way, Tedd Petruna admits that he is unsure of some details in his e-mail–and e-mail he never intended to be distributed throughout the internet, like that the men were Muslim as opposed to “Arabic.” But how many men speaking Arabic, conducting a dry run of a hijacking are Christian Arabs? In the old days, yes, there were Christian Arab terrorists, like George Habash of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and others. But today, they are either Muslims or working for them. It was a fair assumption on Petruna’s part, and likely an accurate observation.

By looking at your picture, you are a blonde. That makes you an airhead. Its a fair assumption on my part, since I do not know you and if a Muslim=terrorist, Blond=airhead? right?

puretexan28 on December 9, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    puretexan28: what is your point? what is the point by any of the posters? 9-11? How bad Americans are in the way we gain information from terrorist? We are a good country so we need to emphasize it to other countries to prove our kindness and compassion? 9-11 has been forgotten by 75% of Americans. My friend was the Captain of the Pentagon flt. I am a former FA of the airlines who lost friends/passengers/planes to the Pentagon & WT Towers. We have home grown terrorist right here. US citizens who have trained in the middle east. We have had 2 kids graduate for Muslim schools only to travel to the middle east and captured as terrorist. We have had our soldiers, contractors and news men beheaded by these filthy people who have one desire, one obligation and that is to kill anyone not of the muslim faith. Learn your Koran because their sole objective is to convert or kill.

    airdebster on December 9, 2009 at 11:22 pm

PureTexan is like many here. He has a reading comprehension problem. We know the flight wasn’t cancelled. We are not believing ONE individual. We know Petruna lied. We’ve already explained why we want the manifests.

Puretexan should apply the due diligence he so adamantly suggested we follow in his opening remarks before condemning a dialogue he obviously hadn’t read, chooses to ignore, or can’t comrehend.

Billy on December 10, 2009 at 11:11 am

Neither of the two eyewitnesses confirm that Petruna was on the flight. Neither back up his account of him and a Texan physically confronting the supposed ‘terrorists’. One eyewitness specifically denies that the “terrorists’ were in “traditional garb”, as Petruna claims. The second eyewitness merely says there was “chaos”, which is pretty vague.

Now if Petruna is so reliable, how do you explain that he saw these men dressed in “traditional garb”, when no one else does? That would seem to be pretty obvious, unless one defines “traditional garb” as shirts and slacks.

Nobody backs up Petruna’s tale of porn-watching. Nobody can explain how Petruna “knew” that they had made the alleged video the night before. In fact, these men were alleged to be speaking in Arabic, right? Is Petruna now fluent in Arabic? If not, how could he possibly understand their conversation as well as he claims to?

The radio interview is mostly the interviewer interrupting and trying to put words in some guy’s mouth, with the guy going to great pains to mention that he is a chaplain. He never confirms that a TSA agent actually entered the plane, either. He merely says the agent was on the jetway.

Again, no mention from the two eyewitnesses of two men (Petruna and a Texan) grabbing the ‘terrorists’ and telling them that they WILL leave, which should be pretty memorable if it really happened. Instead, it looks like some guy bragging about being a hero with no eyewitnesses to back up his claims…and you buy this “hero’s” story completely.

Todd Dugdale on December 10, 2009 at 1:30 pm


    Thanks for making my point. If you would have taken 16 seconds to read my post right above yours, you might not have said what you said. Or, perhaps you would have if you are simply intent on ignoring the facts of the story as they stand today.

    Billy on December 10, 2009 at 3:15 pm

Billy, I do not have a reading problem, my post was not directed to you, it was directed to the person who wrote the aritcle (as stated in the first line of my response) and it is signed Debbie, not Billy. Second, I am a female-why did you automatically assume I was male.

Airdebster: I was recalled after 9/11 back to active duty so believe me, it is not something I forget and since I am currently a flight attendant with military training, I am fully aware that it can happen again. I know that there are daily occurances in the United States involving terrorist (domestic and foreign) but this article was written attacking a specific airline. I read the article and felt it was an attack on the industry as a whole because it is written the airline is at fault without supporting facts, when there are facts that can be confirmed to prove Airtran’s side of the story vs. the passengers.

Tired of the media spinning a story the way they want, regardless of the facts and regardless of who they hurt.

puretexan28 on December 10, 2009 at 9:41 pm


    Apologies for the gender assumption. There are certain things we know about this incident. We know that something happened. As I’ve stated at least 20 times in this thread, we know Petruna lied, so I discount his version of events. However, Mr. Brown’s version is quite believable and has not been impeached. This incident could be laid to rest at least from a historical perspective if the airline, AirTran, was forthcoming with the facts that they are cleary trying to hide. AirTran, aside from obviously trying to “Spin” this story themselvese doesn’t have the greatest track record in the world for honest. Set aside the original testimony from Petruna for a moment and try to revisit this with a fresh set of eyes. As I flight attendant, I’m surprised that this incident isn’t troubling to you. It certainly is for those that I know in the airlines.

    Billy on December 10, 2009 at 11:55 pm

Just reading all this is scary. I believe something happened on that flight that was more than AirTran is willing to admit. I fly for business weekly and I believe what Ted Petruna says he experienced. I’m just an average person out in this world and I know from my travels that there are many people who hate Americans for no good reason. I don’t doubt that this happened at all.
Those of us who do live in America need to be aware of these events so why would anyone try to lie or cover this up. It’s dispicable.I’m glad the passengers on that plane protested. I’m proud to be an American an no matter who we have running this country in the end it’s all up to us as individuals to do the right thing. We need to all be responsible for our own actions and we need to learn how to unite or else for sure we will crumble.

pbrooks on December 11, 2009 at 2:33 pm

Obama should produce a sealed birth certificate? No?

jjuytrml2 on June 28, 2010 at 11:01 am

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