An Arab-American family are furious at United Airlines after its staff removed them from a flight in an incident that they claim was ‘profiling’ and ‘discrimination at its finest.’
On March 20 Eaman-Amy Saad Shebley and her children were asked to leave a Spring Break flight from Chicago to Washington, DC by air crew in what was described by them at the time as a ‘safety of flight’ issue.
In videos posted on Facebook, Shebley claimed that the air crew were ‘profiling my family and me for no reason other than how we look.’ United Airlines has denied the claims.
The two short videos show two air crew members talking to Shebley and her husband. In the first, a woman says that they’re going to ‘ask that she step off the aircraft.’
Shebley’s husband enquires why, but the video cuts off before a response is heard.
In the second video, the captain of the plane is asked why they must leave and says ‘Because it’s my decision.’ When asked to elaborate he says, ‘It is a safety of flight issue.’
In an earlier post, Shebley wrote, ‘United is kicking me and my kids off of the plane! For no reason! Captain said for the safety of the flight! … Discrimination at its finest! I have everything recorded! We didn’t say or do anything!’
The family then went to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an advocacy group, seeking ‘corrective actions’.
ABC News contacted Renner Larson, the CAIR representative for the family, who said the incident occurred after Shebley asked for an extra strap for a child’s booster seat.
That led to a discussion in which she was asked to remove the booster seat, which she did, Larson said in a statement. But afterward the crew member returned and asked them to leave the plane due to ‘safety concerns.’
‘They felt singled-out and helpless,’ Larson told the channel. ‘We are tired of more and more of these instances: of Muslims being taken off flights for flimsy reasons.’
The Chicago chapter of CAIR demanded a formal apology to the family, disciplinary measures for the crewmembers involved and sensitivity training for employees.
In a statement on its website, United said: ‘We reached out to the family following their flight on March 20 to discuss their concerns.
‘They were originally scheduled to fly on SkyWest 5811, operating as United Express from Chicago O’Hare to Washington, DC, but we rebooked them on a later flight 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.’