Southwest Apologizes For Booting Muslim Woman From Flight

The airline that kicked Kevin Smith off a flight for being "too fat to fly" yet allowed three children to fly to Nashville without their parents' knowledge is at it again — and now their incompetence has a racist twist! On Sunday, San Diego State University graduate student Irum Abassi was removed from a flight because she was wearing a head scarf and a flight attendant heard her say "It's a go" on her phone. Except, she was actually saying, "I've got to go," like everyone says when the flight attendants tell you to switch off your cell.

Click to view A flight attendant reported that Abassi was behaving suspiciously, and minutes later TSA agents escorted her off the plane. Her headscarf was patted down and she offered to let agents search her purse and phone, but she said in an interview with NBC Bay Area that they didn't touch them. "They said 'We know you're clear but we cannot let you go on this flight because they are not willing to accept you,'" she said, adding, "I was in tears."


According to Edgar Hopida, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, "The flight attendant indicated she did not feel comfortable with the student on the flight." Abassi wasn't questioned further, and was allowed to board the next flight.

AOL News reports Southwest responded to calls for an apology with this statement:

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...

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 ... We are attempting to follow up with the customer directly to apologize again for her inconvenience.

Of course flight attendants need to report sketchy behavior, but it seems Abassi was mainly suspicious because she was wearing a head scarf. If she was a big enough threat to remove from the flight, why wouldn't agents bother to search bag or question her before putting her on another plane? There's a way to balance security with the rights of passengers, and Southwest is the textbook example of an airline that makes flying more stressful without making us any safer.

Muslim Woman Removed From SJ-Bound Flight [NBC Bay Area]
Southwest Apologizes for Removing Muslim Passenger From Flight [AOL]

Earlier: Kevin Smith Isn't The First Person Southwest Deemed "Too Fat To Fly"
Southwest Lets Children Fly Unaccompanied To Nashville

Image via William Attard McCarthy/Shutterstock.