It shouldn’t be any surprise to people that we are ringing in 2009 with another one of these stories. (via RaceWire)
Nine Muslim passengers on a New Yearâ€™s Day flight on AirTran were kicked off a flight after others flying reportedly heard remarks about airport security. Because of the confusion, that was eventually cleared up, no one was able to fly.[RaceWire]
What could these “dangerous” remarks be? Did they say one of the handful of words that as brown people we are not allowed to say within a ten mile radius of an airport, including but apparently not exclusively, the following words: bomb, terrorist, Bin Laden, explode, die, Bush, fire, shoe, fertilizer, Allahu Akbar?
Mr. Irfan turned to his wife…wondered aloud where the safest place to sit on the airplane would be â€” the front? The rear? Over the wing?
But passengers sitting behind them evidently overheard the remark, saw Mr. Irfanâ€™s beard and his wifeâ€™s head scarf, and grew concerned…The worried passengers contacted flight attendants, who contacted Transportation Security Administration officials, and soon, Mr. Irfan and his wife were off the plane and being questioned in the jetway.[NYT]
Oh! The trigger word was ‘safest.’ How ironic.
Before long…the F.B.I. concluded that the incident was obviously just a misunderstanding, and told AirTran officials that the family was cleared to travel. But he said AirTran still refused to rebook them, offering only to refund their tickets. The F.B.I. agents helped the family get on a later USAirways flight to Orlando, but those seats cost them twice as much.[NYT]
It took me a while to get to posting this up because frankly, this is a dime a dozen story. In 2008 alone, the Transportation Department reported 87 cases of complaints alleging discrimination by airlines and only four were security related. Flying while brown stories happen all the time. I’m tired of blogging about stories like this and that these incidences are still happening. These stories are a part of our lives on the margin and being brown. I’m not implying that we should stand by the wayside and merely accept the injustice. Which is exactly what Mr. Irfan didn’t do. Instead he got organized. AirTran issued an apology but it seems really weak.
Security is a shared responsibility and this incident highlights the multiple layers of security that are in place in today’s aviation environment. While ultimately this issue proved to be a misunderstanding, the steps taken were necessary.[AirTran]
D.C. delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton is asking for a congressional hearing on the incident.
She said that reports of similar incidents among other airlines show that personnel are confused about how to judge security risks and respond to them. Norton said airlines are allowing “amateurs” to make serious decisions, and that Congress has an obligation to address the incidents.[USAToday]
I for one never flew AirTran because of their cramped seats. But now I have even more reason not to.