Muslim Passengers Report Being Removed From Recent Delta, American Flights

Image courtesy of kevindean

Recently, two sets of Muslim American travelers have reported being removed from Delta Air Lines and American Airlines flights after flight crew in both incidents said they felt uncomfortable.

In the first incident, a Cincinnati couple was traveling home from Paris on a Delta flight on July 26 after taking a 10th-anniversary trip to London and Paris, Cincinnati.com reports. A crew member complained to the pilot that she was uncomfortable with the couple, saying the woman was wearing a head scarf and using her phone and the man was sweating.

The flight attendant claimed that the man had tried to hide to hide his cell phone and that she’d heard them use the word “Allah,” which is the Arabic word for God. The pilot contacted the ground crew, and then a ground agent approached the couple.

“The ground agent said, `Can you step out with me? We’d like to ask you a few questions,’ “ the woman said. “So I said, `Do you want us to get our things?’ And he said, `Yes, please grab all of your personal belongings. You’re not going to be on this flight.’ ”

Delta paid for their stay at a nearby hotel, and they flew back to Cincinnati the next day, calling the experience “humiliating.”

Now, the Council on American-Islamic Relations is filing a complaint with the Department of Transportation’s Aviations Consumer Protection Division, claiming that the two passengers were singled out to be removed, and that Delta discriminated against the couple in violation of federal law.

“We call on the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct a thorough examination into the prevailing practices of major American air carriers, including Delta Air Lines, and to develop policy guidelines on the objective factors that are to be considered when determining that a passenger may legally be removed from a flight,” CAIR-Cincinnati attorney Sana Hassan said on Thursday.

Shortly after, Delta released a statement saying it doesn’t condone discrimination, and will be looking into the situation.

“Delta condemns discrimination toward our customers in regards to age, race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation or gender,” the airline said. “As a global airline that brings hundreds of thousands of people together every day, Delta is deeply committed to treating all of our customers with respect. Delta continues its investigation into this matter and will issue a full refund of these customers’ airfare.”

In an another recent incident, two Muslim American women said they were taken off an American Airlines flight from Miami to Washington D.C. flight after discussing a lack of food and water with another passenger during a five-hour wait on the tarmac.

One of the women is a journalist, and posted her story on Facebook. She says her friend, a federal government worker who didn’t want to be named, was discussing the delay with a white male passenger seated behind her, The Independent Reports. That’s when a male flight attendant allegedly approached and said, “If you have a problem, you can get off the plane.” He also allegedly accused her of “instigating” objections from other passengers, and threatened to remove her from the plane.

The two took a picture of the attendant to try to identify him, saying he wasn’t wearing a badge and wouldn’t give his name. They were then told that taking a photo was a federal offense and a female flight attendant asked that they delete the passenger. An American Airlines customer relations representative boarded the plane and asked the women to follow her off the aircraft, where they were met by armed air marshals and police officers who said that the male flight attendant had felt threatened by them.

They were assigned seats on the next available flight and given $200 credit vouchers and a $24 food voucher.

“For being such a ‘threat’ to an AA attendant, it’s telling that the Miami-Dade police officers joked with us and posed for this picture with the ‘pretty harmless’ airplane menaces,’” the woman wrote on Facebook, posting a photo with police at the airport on Twitter as well.

https://twitter.com/nialakhalil/status/760860838106394625

In a statement, American told The Independent that that the passenger had violated the airline’s policy of videotaping and taking pictures of an attendant even though he reportedly asked them to stop.

“This was a case of non-compliance. At no moment did discrimination come up, according to the passenger relations representative who was there,” a spokeswoman said. “She told me they were very calm, very nice, they weren’t upset. They didn’t say they were being kicked off because they were Muslim. Those words never came out of their mouths. It’s only now that she’s saying this was an issue.”

But the woman says that response is less than satisfactory.

“I’m really disappointed in American Airlines for not taking ownership of their mistake or reprimanding the airline attendant for his rude behavior,” she told The Independent. “I feel insulted and the non-compliance statement is a complete and utter lie.”

Local Muslim couple removed from Delta flight: ‘It was humiliating’ [Cincinnati.com]
Two Muslim women who work for US government escorted off plane as they made staff ‘uncomfortable’ [The Independent]