Southwest Airlines apologizes for removing Muslim woman from SD flight
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Southwest Airlines Wednesday apologized to a Muslim woman taken off one of the carrier's jets before a flight out of Lindbergh Field, due to concerns about a comment she made while awaiting takeoff.
Irum Abassi, a graduate student at San Diego State University, was wearing an Islamic head scarf when she was told Sunday that she had to leave the plane, because a flight attendant considered her “suspicious,” Abassi said at a news conference.
The airline expressed regret over the episode, which caused Abassi to miss her 8:15 a.m. flight.
“We sincerely apologize for the customer's inconvenience, and we regret that she was unable to travel as scheduled,” the Southwest statement said. “We accommodated her on the next flight to San Jose, and we issued her a travel voucher as a gesture of good will for her inconvenience.”
The local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations complained about the woman being taken off the plane.
A crew member thought she heard the woman say, “It's a go” during a cell phone call.
“They weren't even sure what I said,” Abassi said, adding that she really said, “I've got to go,” because the plane was about to takeoff.
“My question was, `Did I do something wrong?”' she said. “And they said, `Uh, the flight attendant thinks that you are suspicious.”'
According to the airline, Abassi “was asked to deplane so we could talk to her regarding behavior observed prior to takeoff.”
“After talking with the customer, we cleared (her) to travel. … Obviously, the safety and security of our employees and customers is our number one priority at all times, and we have a responsibility to thoroughly investigate any and all potential safety concerns,” Southwest stated.
The airline is doing an internal investigation.