Two American Muslim men have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation against American Airlines, accusing the carrier of blatant racial profiling during a flight from Birmingham, Alabama to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on September 14.
According to The Dallas Morning News, Abderraoof Alkhawaldeh and Issam Abdallah, both Dallas-area residents, waved to each other from different sections of the plane during boarding.
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Abdallah also said he got up to use the bathroom during a delay due to maintenance issues and noticed a flight attendant standing unusually close to the restroom door when he came out.
The two men were met by law enforcement after crew announced that the flight, which was operated by American’s Phoenix-based regional carrier Mesa Airlines, was canceled.
Alkhawaldeh and Abdallah said they were questioned and then followed by uniformed officers before being taken into a private interrogation with an FBI agent. TSA officers also searched their bags for a second time. Abdallah called it “the most humiliating day of my life.”
They were eventually rebooked on a later flight along with some of the other passengers who saw them met by law enforcement after their original flight was canceled.
The airline confirmed that the flight was canceled due to “concerns raised by a crew member and a passenger” but said that it has reached out to the two men to “better understand their experience.”
“American and all of its regional partners have an obligation to take safety and security concerns raised by crew members and passengers seriously,” American Airlines spokeswoman LaKesha Brown told the Morning News. “All customers on Flight 5886 were rebooked on the next flight to DFW. We’re committed to providing a positive experience to everyone who travels with us. Our team is working with Mesa to review this incident.”
“The safety and security of our customers is our top priority, and we are conducting a thorough investigation of this matter,” added Mesa Airlines spokesman Jack Heller.
CAIR: Two #Muslim men say #AmericanAirlines canceled their flight to #DFW because crew ‘didn’t feel comfortable’ flying with themhttps://t.co/nDnaOvsz3m
“It was the most humiliating day of my life,” Abdallah said, speaking Thursday at @cairdfw @omarsuleiman504 @kylelarnold pic.twitter.com/7aIKwP7WE3
— CAIR National (@CAIRNational) September 19, 2019
Speaking at the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations on Thursday, the pair said they hope to talk with the airline’s leaders about their experience, which Alkhawaldeh, an AAdvantage Executive Platinum member, called “absurd, unacceptable and un-American.”
This isn’t the first time that American Airlines has been accused of discrimination. The NAACP issued a travel advisory for the carrier following a string of allegations in October 2017, with the two sides meeting to discuss concerns shortly thereafter.
Last month, Dana Holcomb, who is African-American, alleged he was discriminated against after being forced off of an American Airlines flight from Las Vegas.