A Sikh man along with his three friends, who were kicked out from an American Airlines flight because their appearance made the captain uneasy has filed a $9 million (Rs61 crore) lawsuit against the airline.
Shan Anand, a Sikh, along with three other friends - Faimul Alam besides a Bangladeshi Muslim and an Arab Muslim — all young US citizens, were ordered off the flight 44718 from Toronto to New York last month based upon their perceived race, colour and ethnicity, CNN reported on Tuesday.
The Bangladeshi Muslim and Arab Muslim were identified only by their initials W.H. and M.K. Anand and Alam switched seats with strangers after boarding, so they could sit next to W.H. and M.K.
Several minutes later, a white woman flight attendant asked W.H. to get off the plane, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Brooklyn Federal Court on Monday.
When they asked the flight crew why they were being removed, the flight attendant told them to exit “peacefully” and “demanded” they return to the gate and await further directions, the lawsuit said.
“It basically made me feel like a criminal,” W.H. said, adding: “It was like I was put on a pedestal where everyone is pointing at you. I was frightened that they were frightened.”
It was only after the plane took off that an airline agent told the men “they could not board because the crew members, and specifically the captain, felt uneasy and uncomfortable with their presence on the flight and as such, refused to fly unless they were removed from the flight,” the report said.
The flight took off, leaving the four men behind. “They said it was protocol,” said Anand.
Feature image for representation / PTI