US pilot finds appearance of Sikh, three Muslims uneasy, kicks them off flight

When they asked the flight crew why they were being removed, the flight attendant told them to exit "peacefully" and "demanded" they return to the gate and await further directions.

By: PTI | New York | Published:January 19, 2016 5:58 pm
american airlines, american airlines lawsuit, american airlines kicks off sikh, US news, US racism, racism in US, US news, World News All young US citizens, the four were ordered off the American Airlines flight York last month based upon their perceived race, colour and ethnicity. (File/Reuters)

A Sikh man along with his four friends, who were kicked out from an American Airlines flight because their appearance made the captain uneasy has filed a USD 9 million lawsuit against the airline.

Shan Anand, a Sikh, along with three other friends – Faimul Alam besides a Bangladeshi Muslim and an Arab Muslim — all young US citizens, were ordered off the flight 44718 from Toronto to New York last month based upon their perceived race, colour and ethnicity, CNN reported today.

The Bangladeshi Muslim and Arab Muslim were identified only by their initials W.H. and M.K.

Anand and Alam switched seats with strangers after boarding, so they could sit next to W.H. and M.K.

Several minutes later, a white woman flight attendant asked W.H. to get off the plane, according to the lawsuit, which was filed yesterday in Brooklyn Federal Court.

When they asked the flight crew why they were being removed, the flight attendant told them to exit “peacefully” and “demanded” they return to the gate and await further directions, the lawsuit said.

“It basically made me feel like a criminal,” W.H. said, adding: “It was like I was put on a pedestal where everyone is pointing at you. I was frightened that they were frightened.”

It was only after the plane took off that an airline agent told the men “they could not board because the crew members, and specifically the captain, felt uneasy and uncomfortable with their presence on the flight and as such, refused to fly unless they were removed from the flight,” the report said.

The flight took off, leaving the four men behind.

“They said it was protocol,” said Anand.

Passengers surrounding Alam and Anand started making racist comments and clutching their children “as if something was going to happen,” the suit charges.

When the group asked the agent whether their appearance had contributed to their removal, “being that they are dark- skinned and had beards,” the agent responded that their appearance “did not help,” the lawsuit said.

The four men are seeking damages, alleging the airline “disgracefully engaged in the discrimination … based on their perceived race, colour, ethnicity, alienage and/or national origin,” the lawsuit reads.

Each of the men are now seeking USD 1 million in compensatory damages and USD 5 million in punitive damages in the USD 9 million lawsuit filed yesterday.

The flight was operated by Republic Airways, a regional partner of American Airlines.

A spokesman for Republic Airways declined to comment on the suit. American Airlines is reviewing the lawsuit, according to spokeswoman Victoria Lupica.

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  1. J
    Jai Kumar
    Jan 19, 2016 at 6:47 pm
    Any American returning their awards!!!
    1. P
      Praful Vora
      Jan 19, 2016 at 3:49 pm
      If pilot is feeling he is threatened he should act.what if their plans were to hijack the plan then more people will be at risk
    2. a
      Jan 19, 2016 at 8:02 pm
      Having beard can't make one JESUS. However, it does indicate one's religious mindset.
      1. a
        Jan 19, 2016 at 8:07 pm
        I also feel uncomfortable with people who grow beard due to religious beliefs.
        1. A
          Jan 19, 2016 at 5:32 pm
          Pengers in US have to p through very detailed security. How could unarmed pengers have done any harm. If the pilot is so nervous, he should look for another profession.
          1. B
            Jan 20, 2016 at 10:33 am
            If this pilot comes to india he would faint -
            1. K
              Jan 19, 2016 at 11:31 pm
              Once the pengers are screened by the TSA in USA the pilot or the airline does not have the right to discriminate. I think the people are suing the airlines and hopefully they will win this case. Such om acts of racism is not what America is all about. At the beginning of the journey there are many places a penger can be screened, after he or she pes those security points there should be no further surprises.
            2. P
              Jan 20, 2016 at 12:30 am
              Lot of beef causes illusions!
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