A Chicago family was escorted off a Washington D.C. bound flight, United Airlines says, because their child safety violated “federal safety regulations”—the family says it is because they are Arab-American.
Eaman-Amy Saad Shebley posted a video of her husband and three children’s interactions with United Airlines flight crew on her Facebook page, March 30, that has since been viewed over 2 million times.
In the first 18 seconds of the 30-second clip (broken into two videos), a flight attendant can be heard asking Shebley, “So what’s going on?”
Shebley responds with “I don’t know, you tell us; they didn’t tell us anything.” According to the mother of three, this incident occurred after she inquired about a safety harness for one of her children.
A few seconds go by before the flight attendant says “we’re going to ask that you step off the aircraft.” This is when husband, Mohamad Shebley chimes in asking for the reason behind them needing to leave the plane. The flight attendant, unable to answer his question, gets a man who appears to be the pilot. This interaction is seen in the second 12-second video.
“It’s my decision” says the pilot when asked for the reason. When pushed further about discriminatory practices, he then responds with “It’s a safety of flight issue.”
In an emailed statement by United Airlines to NBC Chicago, the aircraft denies profiling as the reason for the Shebleys’ exit.
“We reached out to the family following their flight on March 20 to discuss their concerns. They were originally scheduled to fly on SkyWest 5811, operating as United Express from Chicago O’Hare to Washington, D.C., but we rebooked them on a later flight because of concerns about their child’s safety seat, which did not comply with federal safety regulations. Both United and SkyWest hold our employees to the highest standards of professionalism and have zero tolerance for discrimination.”
This is the second time this week that a passenger has been thrown off a flight. Black Lives Matter activist Imani Cezanne was given the boot on an American Airlines flight after a flight crew member felt threatened.