Southwest Apologizes for Removing Muslim Passenger From Flight

Posted Mar 16th 2011 03:00 PMUpdated Mar 16th 2011 05:16 PM


southwest muslim passenger

dannysulivan, flickr

Southwest Airlines is apologizing after a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf was pulled off a flight on Sunday because a flight attendant thought she heard her say into her cell phone: "It's a go."

Irum Abbasi, a San Jose University graduate student, was slated to fly at 8:15 a.m. from San Diego when she hurriedly finished a phone call to a Verizon representative by saying sharply, "I have to go,'' Edgar Hopida, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, tells AOL Travel News.

The call prompted a flight attendant to report that Abbasi seemed suspicious and the captain announced the flight would be delayed. Minutes later, TSA agents boarded the flight and escorted the student off the plane.

"She went through the security check. She went through the secondary check because of her headscarf, which was fine. We learned that the flight attendant thought she said, 'It's a go.' The flight attendant indicated she did not feel comfortable with the student on the flight,'' says Hopida.

CAIR says the incident left Hopida "emotionally distraight and crying." The organization held a press conference demanding an apology from the airline at San Diego International Airport early this morning.

"I tried to explain that I have a lot of work to do, and they still said, 'We'll put you on the next flight.' They did not question me. I even handed over my purse and cell phone for inspection and they didn't even touch it," Abbasi tells a local news station.

"In hindsight, we wish that we could have talked to the customer prior to the flight departing so that we could clear her to travel as scheduled. We sincerely apologize for the customer's inconvenience, and we regret that she was unable to travel as scheduled,'' the airline said in a statement to AOL Travel News.

"We accommodated her on the next flight to San Jose, and we issued her a travel voucher as a gesture of goodwill for her inconvenience,'' the statement continues. "We are attempting to follow up with the customer directly to apologize again for her inconvenience."

The student was able to fly to San Jose later that night.

(Libby Zay contributed to this report).

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you cant just blame some one because they took the necessary precaution to avoid a probable disaster .
human lives are way more important than a student get pissed off ! imagine a situation that that student would turn up a terrorist and....
think twice before you say sth,
and to clear it out . im myself a Muslim .

March 31 2011 at 10:24 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Syed Imtiyaz Desnavi

Nonsense? What apology? enough is enough. What lip service is CAIR giving? Take each such cases of descrimination because of Muslim identity and sue them for a million Dollar. Give vast publicity in the newspapers and magazines, that they have been sued for this cause for a million Dollar, they will come to their senses.

Irum Abbasi should even now sue Southwesdt for a million Dollar and send E-mail to all airlines for the harrasement.

Announce to all CAIR members that such cases should be brought to CAIR notice. CAIR then guide them to sue such organisatioin for a million Dollar each.

March 18 2011 at 3:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i thought its a free country there?
so what if she wears a headscarf?
it is the same for those who wears tube top and a hot pants.

March 17 2011 at 9:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Airport has become appelplatz where anybody can be picked off by the master race : TSA and xenophobic flight crews.When the flight attendant that will make sure not to hear a request for extra cup of tea,but is so sharp to hear phone conversation of boarding passenger can kick you of the plane at will, I am glad being old and knowing that I did not miss on a good life in a free country.I pity young people for the future that awaits them : life of impoverished serfs in plutocracy where constitution has been shredded.

March 17 2011 at 3:18 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I'm sick of hearing about these Southwest employees picking on their customers - whether it's a headscarf or a tube top, get over yourselves.

March 17 2011 at 2:36 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Racism at Its Worst

The idiocy of the commenter who wrote: "I would put the safety of the other 200 passengers over the hurt feelings of one."

By that logic, since a white men named Hitlier, Stalin, and Mussolini slaughtered millions of innocents, we should prevent all white people from ever being in government. If they feel insulted, we should say, "I would put the safety of the world's 6 billion people over the hurt feelings of a few."

Anti-Muslim racism in this country has reached a fever pitch. Simply being a Muslim, or being suspected of being one, has become a crime.

March 17 2011 at 12:13 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

@3.16.2011 @ 8:43PM by

Then I guess we need to kick all white, Christian men out of government buildings, using your logic. Timothy McVeigh and all that.

March 16 2011 at 10:37 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Imran Ahmad

This is stupidity beyond paranoia.

Even IF she had said, "It's a go", so what?

Is this something a terrorist is likely to shout out in earshot of everyone? (In English.)

'gainst stupidity, the gods themselves, contend in vain ...

March 16 2011 at 10:02 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Airline employees with religious prejudices that have results like this should be fired on the spot.

March 16 2011 at 9:10 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Checkmoot's comment
Gracie\'s here

I agree the safety of the other passengers was the #1 priority. I would have been upset also if I were pulled off the flight. Yet, we all must understand what the airlines is up against trying to protect the safety of passengers and aircraft. After all, women have become terroists also.

March 17 2011 at 3:48 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

What about re-training the xenophobic crew of that flight including the flight attendant and the pilot who chose to hear what they wanted to hear instead of what was actually said??? What has this country come to??? Muslims cant even speak in public anymore... Rep. King, who's a supporter of terror, is the chairman of the committee to villify muslims... Land of the Free???

March 16 2011 at 5:45 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Ali's comment
Sandy Morton

I agree, Ali, this beautiful student was treated in a way that indicates that Islamophobia is a real threat to the safety of people. It is shameful and it reflects on a society and upbringing that is reeked with ignorance.

March 16 2011 at 10:43 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply