Ever thought that asking for a glass of water, watching the news or even sweating can get you kicked off a plane? No? Well, if you’re Muslim, those are precisely some reasons airlines might use to send you back to the airport terminal.
Here’s a list of the 10 most ludicrous reasons for which Muslims or persons of colour have been offloaded or faced discrimination on UK or US flights.
1. Asking for a glass of water
Two American Muslim women were taken off a plane for asking for a glass of water and asking the flight crew why they were being kept in an idling plane for over five hours. Niala Mohammad, one of the women wrote about the incident in a Facebook post and for The Guardian.
2. Asking for an unopened bottle of soda
Tahera Ahmad, a chaplain at America’s Northwestern University, was denied an unopened can of Diet Coke by a United Airlines flight attendant who said they were not authorised to give passengers unopened cans because they “might use them as a weapons.” Moments later, however, the same air hostess gave another passenger an unopened can of beer.
3. Requesting a strap for a child’s booster seat
A United Airlines pilot asked a Muslim family to leave the plane, citing “security concerns”, after they requested an additional strap for their youngest daughter’s booster seat.
4. Upgrading to business class
Three New York Muslims and a Sikh were kicked off a Toronto to New York flight. Two of the men had upgraded their seats to business class. A lawsuit filed by the men states they were removed because the flight crew felt “uneasy” with their presence.
5. Reading a book
British Muslim Faizah Shaheen was detained and questioned at a UK airport after a crew member from her earlier flight reported her for reading a Syrian book.
6. Looking at flight attendant
Two Muslim women were removed from a Jet Blue flight from Boston after a cabin crew member “didn’t like the way [they] were staring back at her”, The Telegraph reported.
7. Looking at Arabic text on phones
Three British Muslim siblings were removed from an easyJet flight and questioned after a fellow passenger claimed they were members of Islamic State and he had seen them reading terrorist literature on their phones.
8. Watching the news
A Middle Eastern man and his companions were kicked off a Spirit Airlines flight after a fellow passenger reported him for ‘suspicious activity’. He was watching a news report on his phone.
9. Doing math
An economics professor at the University of Pennsylvania was removed from an American Airlines flight and questioned after a fellow passenger expressed suspicion that he was a terrorist because he had been solving complex equations on a notepad, The Washington Post reported.
A Pakistani-American couple was taken off a Delta Airlines flight and questioned because a crew member said he had seen the husband hide his phone, saying Allah, and sweating.