Jetstar staff accused of calling passenger 'idiot' over tarmac photo

While boarding the Jetstar flight with his family, Jimmy Mitchell was told he would not be able to get on the plane after using his phone to snap a quick photo.

An Aussie dad is demanding an apology after alleging a Jetstar staff member called him an "idiot" when he took a picture of his wife and kids on the tarmac, then left the family "waiting" for word on whether the father of two would be allowed on the flight.

Jimmy and Pauline Mitchell were travelling with their two kids on a Jetstar flight from Sydney to Brisbane on Wednesday. While on the tarmac, Mitchell pulled out his phone to snap the family walking up the stairs and onto the plane — which is when he heard "someone yell idiot" behind him.

Passengers are advised by Jetstar they are not allowed to use their phones on the tarmac but Mitchell was taken aback by the alleged comment from the flight crew member.

"She was about 10 to 15 metres away from me and said it loud enough for me to hear it over the noise of the plane," he told Yahoo News Australia. "So I think she had every intention of me hearing it."

Left is an image of Pauline and Jimmy talking to a camera. Right is an image of the family walking on to the Jetstar flight.
The couple believe Jetstar should apologise following the ordeal. Source: TikTok

Mitchell —who labelled what then ensued as "traumatic" — says he "turned around in disbelief" and then stormed over to the staff member to ask if she had really called him an "idiot". From there, he claims an argument then followed and the staff member "blasted him", so he argued back.

"She could have gone, 'Get off your phone' and I would have been like 'OK, sorry' and put my phone back. All she had to do was say something constructive," he said.

The father, who admits he understands if the female staff member felt intimidated during their argument due to his size and volume, was then ordered off the tarmac and back to the boarding gate. He says he was then told he would not be getting on the plane and "federal police" would be waiting for him.

Wife and kids kept 'out of the loop' during ordeal

Mitchell did not have his passport or wallet on him at the time and his wife Pauline and their two children were already on the plane, so he claims he asked to get his items and notify his wife. "Her exact words [back were] 'too bad, you can't do that'," he said.

After closing the back door to the plane, where the rest of the family had entered from, Pauline became worried and tried to seek information on where her husband was but received little information and was told to wait.

"I feel like they were trying to establish what had happened to determine if I was still allowed on the flight which is fair enough, but they didn't want to hear my or my family's side," Mitchell told Yahoo.

"They could have kept my family in the loop during that process just so they were aware of what was happening."

While Mitchell was eventually allowed on the flight and let back on the plane right before takeoff, he wants the airline to apologise for their lack of communication following being "verbally abused" by a staff member and "embarrassed" in front of other passengers — ultimately causing stress on his family.

"The communication between the ground crew and the crew on the plane should have been a lot better and they need to have considered that there were human beings involved in this situation.

"I am very disappointed in what happened to my wife and my kids during this experience, partially due to my actions, but the vast majority of it could have been de-escalated and the situation for them could have been a whole bunch better if Jetstar had just kept them in the loop."

Mitchell has yet to put a complaint through with Jetstar formally but told Yahoo he plans on doing so.

Jetstar are investigating what happened

Yahoo reached out to Jetstar about the incident who has said they are "looking into what took place" on this occasion.

"All our customers and team members have the right to feel respected when flying with us or when at work," a spokesperson said.

"Phones are not allowed to be used whilst on the tarmac as this is an operational space and we remind customers of this via gate PA's."

Australians divided over whether they agree with the family

Many people online agree with Mitchell that the staff member had overreacted and was "unprofessional", calling out Jetstar for its treatment of the family. "Take it further and don't let them get away with what they have done," one said. "How unprofessional of them," another said.

Though others were on the side of Jetstar. "Why go confront her just get on the plane," one person said.

"What part of don’t use your phone on the tarmac don’t you understand? Or are you the exception to the rules?" a second asked.

"There are two sides to this," a third added with numerous others sharing a similar scepticism.

Phones on tarmacs are restricted in Australia

Mitchell's wife, Pauline, later told him there had been an announcement prior to them boarding to advise customers not to use phones on the tarmac, though he says he had noise-cancelling headphones on at this stage and had missed it. "If you're not there for the one announcement they make, you wouldn't know. There are no other signs or prompts," he said.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority states "Restrictions on using phones on the tarmac vary for different airlines and airports due to different hazards, such as moving vehicles and refuelling trucks.

"You must follow the crew’s directions before using your device on the tarmac."

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