Kevin Murray (claystorm) wrote,
Kevin Murray

AirTran apologizes to Muslim family removed from plane

There are times that I am still amazed in the world that we live. Today was one of those days. As I was sitting at lunch in Santa Fe, I read a story on CNN about a Muslim family that removed from an AirTran plane yesterday for talking about where the safest place to sit on a plane was.

So I understand that we live in a world that is controlled by fear. I know and accept this. But there are times when I think people take that just a little (ok, a lot) overboard. I would have thought that by now people would have figured out that being Muslim does not make you a terrorist. I bet if this had been a white guy, no one would have even cared & there would have never been a problem. He would have gotten on that flight, and they would have taken off with no problem.

What kills me is that these are just normal people, just like you and me. One was a tax attorney & the other is a anesthesiologist. According to CNN, "They (the authorities) also removed a family friend, Abdul Aziz, a Library of Congress attorney who was coincidentally taking the same flight and had been seen talking with the family." All of this for talking about where the safest place to sit on a plane was.

What really kills me the most about this is that after the FBI had cleared the family and released them, AirTran refused to rebook them so that they could go on their vacation. When the FBI found this out, they went to the airline on behalf of the family and told them (the airline) "There is no suspicious activity here. They are clear. Please let them get on a flight so they can go on their vacation" and yet AirTran still refused. Finally the FBI was able to help get the family tickets on US Airways to that they could continue on their vacation.

So tonight as I sat at dinner, I was happy to read that AirTran had reversed its course and is now apologizing to the family. They are now saying that they have not only refunded the family their money, but that they are offering to fly the family home to Washington for free. I must say that this is an 180 degree turn from what they had been saying just three hours earlier in the day in a press release that had a very unapologetic description of what happened. According to CNN "In that statement, the airline said it did not re-book the family only because the security concern had not been resolved, and because one member of the group 'became irate and made inappropriate comments.'"

Now I am not saying that AirTran apologizing, refunding the money, or offering the family to fly home free makes any of this better. Sure the apology is a nice start and the other things do not hurt, but I think the damage here has already done. There is an old saying that "bad press is better then no press", but in this case I do not think that is the case. What has happened is very damning for AirTran. What does not help matters any is that the first press release they issued regarding this matter was very negative in tone, and from all accounts of the family and FBI, not true (read the first press release) and really the second press release that they issued does not start to do this family justice (read the second press release).

So one positive to come out of this is the actions of the FBI. I think that the FBI spokesman Richard Kolko is very correct when he said "Our agents went way out of their way to make sure this family went on their trip." The FBI could have just told AirTran that they these people were cleared and left it at that. But instead when AirTran were total tools, the FBI went to bat for the family. And then ultimately the FBI was able to get this family on another airline so they could go on their vacation. I think the FBI deserves to get a big round of applause for all that they did for this family!
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