CHICAGO — An Arab-American family was kicked off a United Airlines flight traveling from Chicago to Washington, D.C., after asking flight attendants about getting a safety harness for their children, the family said.
The mother, Eaman-Amy Saad Shebley, who wears a hijab, recorded the encounter in two videos she posted to Facebook on Wednesday, saying the family was asked to leave the plane “for no reason other than how we look.”
In one video, a flight attendant asks the family to get off the plane but doesn’t say why. In the second, the pilot tells the family members they were being asked to leave for an unspecified “safety of flight” issue. The video posts have since been removed from Facebook.
The family disembarked and spoke with United Airlines’ customer service representatives who apologized and rebooked the family’s flight, WDIV reported.
The family later reached out to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“I felt singled-out, humiliated and helpless,” Shebley told the civil rights group.
In a statement released to WDIV, United Airlines said the family was rebooked “because of concerns about their child’s safety seat, which did not comply with federal safety regulations.”
“Both United and SkyWest hold our employees to the highest standards of professionalism and have zero tolerance for discrimination,” the airliner added.
On Friday, CAIR called on United Airlines to formally apologize to the family for removing the family “apparently without cause.”
The group demanded disciplinary action against the staff involved in the incident, which happened on March 20, along with sensitivity training for crew members.
“We are tired of Muslim-looking passengers being removed from flights for the flimsiest reasons, under a cryptic claim of ‘security,'” said CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab. “Security means securing passengers, not harassing and humiliating them and then booting them off their flight for, of all things, actually asking for security.”