A woman who flew Southwest Airlines from Fort Lauderdale to Dallas Love Field on May 22 with her sister to visit their mother who had been admitted to a hospital’s intensive care unit says she was booted from an exit row seat by a flight attendant because she’s Muslim and was wearing a hijab. Her sister, also Muslim but not wearing a hijab, was allowed to keep her exit row seat but moved voluntarily. She says she’s filed a DOT complaint.
Altakrouri, who was born and raised in the U.S. and wearing a hijab during the flight, claimed a flight attendant told her that she “couldn’t speak English and would bring the whole plane down in an emergency.”
“I took it just as a terrorist comment,” Altakrouri said during the news conference. “If I were to say something like that, I would be kicked off the plane. I don’t understand why she would say something like that. That makes me look like I am some kind of terrorist and I am not.”
Fatima said that she spoke to the flight attendant in English.
According to the woman’s sister, the flight attendant “said well you can sit [in the exit row] but she can’t.” They both gave up the exit row so they could sit together.
According to the airline,
Southwest neither condones nor tolerates discrimination of any kind. Since Southwest Airlines’ inception, we have put People first and maintain a mutual respect for our fellow Southwest Airlines Employees, our Customers, and the diverse communities that we serve. We apologize to any Customer who has a less than positive travel experience on Southwest and will look into the specific passenger situation referenced.
Flying While Muslim is challenging in this country. Flying while even being mistaken for Muslim is, too. In 2016 a math professor – named Guido Menzio – was removed from an American Airlines flight because the math symbols he drew were mistaken for Arabic writing. He was confused with a member of the ‘Al-Gebra movement’ and flagged for his use of weapons of math instruction.