Rich Cimini | ESPN.com
The airline and Smith released statements through the Jets. Neither party provided any details as to what actually happened on the Los Angeles-to-Fort Lauderdale flight. Smith exited before takeoff.
“After a full review of the incident, we believe it was the result of a misunderstanding that regrettably escalated unnecessarily,” the airline said. “We’ve apologized to Mr. Smith for his experience, which could have been better — and we’d welcome him back onboard any time. As an airline that prides itself on our guest service, we take incidents such as this one very seriously.”
Smith said: “I really appreciate that Virgin America took this seriously, looked into this matter and followed up with me. I look forward to flying their airline again soon.”
Conflicting versions emerged on the night of the incident.
According to a source close to the quarterback, the altercation was triggered when a flight attendant asked Smith to remove his headphones. Smith didn’t immediately respond because he didn’t hear the flight attendant, the source said. The flight attendant unplugged Smith’s headphones and “threw them down,” telling Smith he was a “threat” and asking him to leave the plane, according to the source. Smith requested to speak with police, the source added.
The New York Post and New York Daily News quoted unnamed airport officials who said Smith was thrown off the plane for refusing to get off his cell phone prior to takeoff. The captain reportedly ordered him off the plane and the airline refused to rebook him on another flight. Smith wasn’t arrested, and police didn’t file an incident report, according to a public information officer for LAX police.
- Longtime Jets beat writer for New York Daily News
- Syracuse University graduate