Jan 2, 2009

Eight U.S. Citizens and One Foreign National Kicked off Plane. Their Crime? Looking Muslim.

Update: AirTran apologized, 01/03. Just when things look litigious, they belatedly cough up an "I'm sorry."

T
hree kids, ages seven, four, and two. An anesthesiologist. A lawyer. Mothers. Nine people total were forcibly removed from an AirTran flight from Washington, D.C. to Orlando, Florida yesterday. What did they do to deserve such treatment? Talk about bombs? That's one taboo subject that will get anyone the boot from an airplane. Threaten the pilot or flight crew? Heck, no. This family did the same thing you and I have done over the course of our many hours of flight time on airplanes. They discussed which seats were safer. And they appeared to be Muslim.

I can tell you honestly, my husband and I have had the same kind of conversation numerous times. Well, if you sit in the rear, you are more likely to survive a catastrophe. No, if you sit close to the jets, you'll do better. And on, and on. Who hasn't speculated about these things? Normal conversation and part of the patter of flying. We all have our jitters. Talking about it helps. Well, not if you look Muslim. Then, it gets you and your entire family--children and all--kicked off a plane.

AirTran was unapologetic when confronted with their blatant racial and cultural prejudice. The most they would admit to was a "misunderstanding." For that misunderstanding, 102 passengers were delayed two hours, nine people were victimized, and three little kids learned about the real nature of prejudice--sorry lessons for all. Lastly, AirTran refused to rebook the family after the FBI cleared them of any security breech.

If I could, I would send an "I'm Sorry" card to the family, and tell them not everyone is like those foolish and ignorant people whose bigotry they experienced. AirTran owes them an apology and I hope the attorney in the family wins a major victory in a civil lawsuit.

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