It is amazing to me that five years after 9/11 the airlines STILL don’t have their acts together in preventing racial discrimination by their aircraft crews. The latest comes from the Bay Area:
A Muslim father and son from Hayward filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation this week, accusing airline attendants of booting them off a flight because of their appearance.
Fazal Khan, 59, and his son, Mohammed Khan, 28, boarded a United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Oakland on Jan. 31 wearing traditional South Asian tunics, white skullcaps and loose trousers. Both men also have long beards…
[Shirin Sinnar of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights in San Francisco] said the Khans do not know of anything, other than their attire, that could have agitated the female flight attendant, who apparently expressed concern to the terminal crew about their presence.
“When they got on the plane, she helped them with their bags. That was their only interaction,” Sinnar said.
Sinnar said the two men boarded the flight with no problems. They had been sitting on the plane for about an hour before they were ejected.
Mohammed Khan was sleeping and sometimes reading the Quran, she said, while the father was relaxing awake. They were heading back to Oakland International Airport from a trip visiting family members.
The plane eventually moved down the runway but returned to the terminal as airplane staff announced mechanical difficulties, Sinnar said.
An airline customer service representative walked onto the plane and asked the Khans to bring their carry-on handbags with them and return to the airport terminal, Sinnar said. [Link]
Next comes the most incomprehensible part. You would think that two people that aroused enough suspicion to be kicked off a flight would at least have their bags removed from cargo. Not so in this case. The Khans were placed on the next flight to San Francisco but their bags (minus carry-on) continued on to Oakland aboard the original aircraft:
After escorting them out, the representative was “sympathetic” but said they could not return because the flight attendant was not comfortable with them on board, Sinnar said…
“The strange thing is no one took the bags off the first flight,” Sinnar said. “If there was any thought they were a security risk, certainly their bags should have been removed…” [Link]
Straight-up racial discrimination. The father and son say they were humiliated and will be suing Utah-based SkyWest who were responsible for staff on the aircraft.
See related post: Fear of flying