Arab-American family asked to leave United Airlines flight


CHICAGO (CNN/WCMH)–An Arab-American family of five headed for spring break vacation was recently kicked off a flight in Chicago.

They said it happened after they asked for child safety seats and were told it was for security reasons.

The family was on a flight bound for Chicago when the flight attendant told them they would have to get off.

The family says it all started with them simply asking about a five-point harness for the kids.  The flight attendant told them she had no idea what they were talking about, and moments later, they were asked to leave.

“I’m going to ask that you step off the aircraft with all your belongings,” the attendant says.

“Why is that?” asks the father.

Soon after, the pilot came out to explain.

“Is is a discriminatory decision or is it because – what is the reason?” the mother, Amy Saad Shebley, asks.

“It is a safety of flight issue,” the pilot says.

The Council on American Islamic Relations of Michigan says it knows exactly what safety flight issues mean; they say it means being “guilty of flying while Muslim.”

Its executive director said there’s a growing problem of airlines removing Muslims from flights.

The family has since filed a complaint with the Council on American-Islamic Relations of Illinois.

United Airlines said in a statement the family was rebooked on a later flight.  The airline said the child’s safety seat did not comply with federal safety regulations.  The statment went on to say both United and Skywest “have zero tolerance for discrimination.”

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