1.02.2009

Unwarranted Apology

A Muslim family that was ordered off an AirTran Airways flight on New Year's Day received an apology and refund on Friday from the airline, which said its decision to bar the passengers was necessary.
Then why apologize!?!? If this action was necessary, then AirTran did nothing wrong. They should give no apology and no money.

Atif Irfan said in an interview with CNN that federal authorities removed him, seven family members and a friend from the flight after passengers overheard members of the group talking about the safest place to sit on the plane. He said they were being careful to avoid any "buzzwords" like "bomb" that would trigger a security alert.

The group was flying out of Reagan Washington National Airport and was headed for a religious retreat (!) in Florida when other passengers apparently overheard the conversation and reported it to authorities.

It is interesting that the articles I read about this tell the side of the story told by the evictees, but not the side given by other passengers. I suspect that there is a fair amount of divergence between the stories. Here's evidence on AirTran's side:
An earlier AirTran statement said the airline complied with all Transportation Security Administration and Homeland Security directives and had no discretion in the case.
And also this:
But he said the pilot was influenced not only by the complaints from passengers but by the actions of two federal air marshals on board, who had learned of the incident and reported it to airport police.
It wasn't just some hick racist passengers who made complaints; air marshals concurred. These factors considered, the need for apologies and refunds is clearly absent.

Of course, cries of discrimination from terrorist-group affiliated CAIR soon erupted:
"We believe this disturbing incident would never have occurred had the Muslim passengers removed from the plane not been perceived by other travelers and airline personnel as members of the Islamic faith," the group said in its complaint.
(Considering recent events, I think a Muslim-based sensitivity on airplanes is completely reasonable.)

Such cries are common in situations like this. Terrorists and their allies (not to say that those in this particular group necessarily were) are quick to use the media and our political correctness to their advantage. Recall the incident in Minneapolis not long ago. A lawsuit is likely in this case, too, I suspect. Despite such antics, we must remain vigilant.

3 comments:

Rachel said...

So people aren't allowed to travel to religious retreats on airplanes if they're Muslim?

Craig said...

Sure they can. But they can't actively arouse the suspicions of the entire plane and expect it to be no big deal.

KEIFER said...

You seem to be quite unfair in this matter. The fact is they were not terrorists and were wrongfully removed from the plane. They should get a refund and an apology, as long as the airline understands how a business should work. This scenario could happen to anyone, not just Muslims, and I believe it should be treated the same in all cases.

Now, if they themselves did arouse suspicion, by saying something that could be inferred as a threat, then it is their fault and they should have been removed. But the only thing stated is a discussion of the safest place to be on a plane? You got to be kidding. Everyone talks about that at some point. Are Muslims not aloud to be nervous when they fly? Unless there were other statements that were threatening, this does seem to be the perfect example of people over reacting purely because they were Muslim. And I don't understand how you could see it otherwise.

But I am not condemning Airtran, I am sure they felt they reacted appropriately. And to a degree they probably did. Particularly around New Year's you want to be extra careful. But I am guessing their decisions were partly based on the nervousness of the passengers whose integrity I do not trust. And they did make a mistake. Anyway, apologies for the long reply, but I found your post in compelling need of a response.