AirTran Grounds the Irfans: Muslim Family Removed From Plane For Discussing Air Safety

250px-airtran_airways_logosvgFor those who believe we are becoming a nation of cringing morons, AirTran has supplied a wonderful case in point. A family was boarding a flight to Orlando, Florida and discussing where is the safest place to sit on a plane. It is a fairly common topic on planes but this family was Muslim and the passengers became alarmed. The family of Atif Irfan was removed from the plane and, even after the FBI cleared them and told the airline that the airline should let them fly, AirTran refused to rebook them. So much for the airline motto: “Go. There’s Nothing Stopping You.” Expect possibly your religion.

Airtran has now offered the family a full refund and invited them to family AirTran on their next trip — it is not clear if the tickets come with standard humiliation and detention. Presumably they will be asked not to discuss air safety, aerodynamics, the air industry, or the Wright Brothers. . . unless of course they convert.

AirTran insists that it “complied with all TSA, law enforcement and Homeland Security directives and had no discretion in the matter.” No discretion? This would suggest that any loony objection from any half-wit makes ejection of eight passenger mandatory. Does this mean that AirTran has no choice but to eject a group of evangelical ministers on a flight when I object that they are discussing the “end of times”?

[UPDATE: after defending its actions for two days, AirTran has now issued an apology.]

Irfan said that the airline told them never to fly AirTran again and refused requests from the FBI to allow them to fly.
He said that they were simply walking to their seat and talking “about where the safest place in an airplane is. We were (discussing whether it was safest to sit near) the wing, or the engine or the back or the front, but that’s it. We didn’t say anything else that would raise any suspicion.”

Of course, it is a bit unclear why they would be discussing the safest seat if they were planning to explode the plane. Not many suicide bombers work the margins in the hope of surviving a midair explosion and plunge to the sea.

There is talk of a lawsuit and there is certainly a good basis for one. While I do not fly AirTran, it would be comforting if the airline was more intelligent than the lowest common denominator on the flight. This case does not give one much faith in the intellect of the airline crew or company (like finding a note in the cockpit reading “do not hit other shiny things in the sky).

For the full story, click here.

11 thoughts on “AirTran Grounds the Irfans: Muslim Family Removed From Plane For Discussing Air Safety”

  1. The “apology” is hardly that. More like a begrudging nod toward everyone on the plane. Air Klan stinks!

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  3. JT –

    “For those who believe we are becoming a nation of cringing morons, AirTran has supplied a wonderful case in point.”

    Its lines like this that make you sir, a steely eyed missile man.

    I just read this story this morning and when I did, I said to myself under my breath, “we are a nation of cringing idiots”. You say morons, I say idiots, same thing. This story made me sick. They didn’t even say anything about terrorism. The one guy merely acknowledged to his brother that his seat seemed close to the engines. For that the chickensh$t passengers took George Bush\Hitlers advice and began “turning on their neighbor” and “turning IN their neighbor”.

    Then after the FBI told the airlines it was nothing they STILL refused to fly the family! Its insanity. Mass insanity.

    Mespo got their new airline name right. Air Klan. Its a perfect fit.

  4. This is a situation that virtually screams for a lawsuit. It is also another example of how the country continues to wallow in ethnic and religious prejudice encouraged by almost eight years of fear mongering following the twin towers attacks.

  5. From the version of the story I read this morning they were cleared by an FBI agent who was called in and he informed AirTran that they were cleared to fly. Their original plane had already departed but AirTran was refusing to allow them to rebook another flight.

  6. Don’t airplanes usually have assigned seats anyways?

    And if the plane was to crash, I don’t think it matters where a person is sitting anyways, you’re probably not going to make it if the planes comes crashing down from the sky

    I certainly would not fly with that company ever again if I were them. I’d tell them just where they could put those tickets

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