Fear and loathing took over a Chicago flight recently and the airlines response was disgusting. Maher Khalil and Anas Ayyad, both of Palestinian descent, tried to board their flight home to Philadelphia on Southwest Airlines but had made the unfortunate mistake of speaking Arabic while brown. When lilly-livered passengers decided that they were uncomfortable flying with the scary bilingual brown men (never mind they have lived in the U.S. for 15 years) Southwest gate agents would not allow the men to board their flight.
Twitter is sure letting the airline know how real Americans feel about this:
@SouthwestAir Take a moment to consider how dehumanizing it must have felt for the people taken off your flights for the color of their skin
— Jenny Han (@jennyhan) November 21, 2015
No matter how “apologetically” they were told that other passengers were afraid of them, and they would therefore not be allowed on the flight, this is as UN-American as it gets in the United States.
Khalil is quoted as telling the Gate agents:
If that person doesn’t feel safe, let them take the bus. We’re American citizens just like everybody else.
Any airline that refuses passengers based on religion or ethnicity should be subject to national boycott. Start with @SouthwestAir.
— Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) November 21, 2015
Khalil, who owns a pizza place in Philly, lost as to what to do, called the police himself. Eventually, after being put through interviews with not only the police but also airport security, Khalil and his friend were allowed to board the flight. It is not known if the person(s) who were so scared of others just because they weren’t speaking English were also put through interviews to be allowed on the flight (because of course they weren’t).
.@SouthwestAir I'm not comfortable flying with un-American bigots, please keep them off my flights
— Dan Amira (@DanAmira) November 21, 2015
I don't need my already stressful bargain-priced, open-seating flight to also be a "bigotry empowerment zone." #SouthwestAirlines
— Dave Zirin (@EdgeofSports) November 21, 2015
— Michael Behiels (@67Capt_Canuck) November 21, 2015
When they were allowed back on their flight, despite their attempt to smile and set passengers as ease, they were given “the look” as they boarded. Passengers made them open a “white box” that they were carrying, it was Baclava, a sweet, flaky treat that they actually shared with some passengers. Even after being treated like second class citizens, shame on you Southwest for succumbing to Islamophobia.
Can't blame @SouthwestAir for the employees actions, can blame Southwest for their response. Shameful.
— Aaron Rostad (@aaronrostad) November 21, 2015
— Aziz Gilani (@TexasVC) November 21, 2015
— osiris322 (@osiris322) November 22, 2015
Gee, do you think they will get the hint? America is better than this. After this travesty of un-American fear and profiling, Southwest Airlines said in a statement that safety is a primary concern, and its employees are trained to make decisions to guard the security of the passengers and flight crew.
Apparently that training is NOT adequate, nor correct as this is the second time in a week Southwest has delayed flights due to others passenger’s “feelz” about brown people following the Paris attacks.
Hey, folks, listen up — the safety protocols that were in place are still in place — and you can bet the screeners are less “comfortable” too. Don’t hesitate to tell people when you see unattended bags, but when someone that kinda looks like what you think a terrorist might look like, speaking in a language other than English that is NOT a reason to stop them from boarding a flight.
Featured image via Twitter