Officials at Reagan National Airport removed 9 passengers from an AirTran flight to Orlando yesterday. The problem originated when other passengers heard what they thought was a suspicious remark.

The 9 were later cleared for travel by the FBI but only after they had been removed from the plane. All other passengers were removed also and rescreened, along with their baggage. The delay took 2 hours. The final decision to remove the 9 muslims from the flight was made by the pilot and 2 US marshals.

AirTran defends its actions and the actions of its pilot. TSA also defends its actions saying that Air Tran took appropriate action. Everyone agrees that the incident was a misunderstanding. However, the 9 Muslims attempting to get to Orlando for a religious retreat are angry also and are charging racial profiling. All were dressed in muslim garb.

Should we as citizens be on the look out after 9-11? Is this racial profiling? If yes, is it justified in light of 9-11? Is our safety more important than someone else’s desire to travel via commercial airliner? How could this misunderstanding be avoided?

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

66 Thoughts to “9 Muslim Passengers Removed from Jet at Reagan”

  1. GainesvilleResident

    MH – Yes, it is the Muslims’ free choice (or anyone’s for that matter) to wear religious clothing on the airlines. However, if they chose to, again since it is their free choice, they should be aware it may bring about unwanted consequences, and accept whatever happens as a result of that free choice. Free choice involves accepting responsibility for one’s actions – and that is something I don’t exactly see happening here. Same with free speech – I support anyone’s right to say whatever it is they want to say in a PUBLIC place (an airline is not exactly a public place and they have the right to restrict one from saying things like bomb, etc.) – but again a person has to accept the consequences of saying something unpopular, too.

    I once was behind some idiot who seemed to want to cause trouble at the security checkpoint in the airport. He had a beef about them inspecting his laptop with the cloth that is used to detect explosive residue. I take my laptop all the time and have no issue with that. In my opinion, if you have an issue with that, you must either have something to hide – or in this particular case my guess was this guy was just looking to pick a fight for some strange reason. They finally took him off to the side (with his laptop) and let the rest of us continue on, but it wasted 2 or 3 minutes of my time as I was right behind him, unfortunately. I’m sure he then made a beef about his precious time being wasted, unconcerned he was wasting several other people right behind him, or maybe he was gunning for a lawsuit.

    I also many years ago (late 80’s) – was in the middle of a flight to California and about half way there, when some guy from India several rows back stood up and started shouting really loud incoherent stuff (probably in his native language). The flight attendants got him to calm down and sit back down and he was quiet the rest of the flight, but it left me unnerved for the 2 hours remaining in the flight. I might have been fine if they had chosen to land the plane early somewhere. But things were a lot different back then. I imagine if that happened today, the plane would have done an early emergency landing of some sort.

    Over the years I’ve seen all manner of idiots at the airports – people who think they can do things that infringe upon other people – either causing unnecessary delays or otherwise disturbing what could be a more relaxed environment. These people seem to have no regard for anyone else and think they are above everyone or more important than anyone else. I seem to remember for the most part, there was much less of that 20 to 25 years ago when I first started flying regularly – people were in general more civil to each other and more behaved. Such is a sign of the times, I guess.

    I will end this on saying I still believe it is better to err on the side of caution in incidents such as these. If it makes some of those people angry, and they choose not to fly that particular airline anymore, so be it. Of course they may sue, and that is their right to, but I think in a sizeable percentage (maybe 20%) of those kinds of cases, they were looking for a lawsuit in the first place.

  2. Moon-howler

    100% agreement again, Gainesville. Make that 99% agreement. I wager 25% that they were looking for a lawsuit to start with.

    Too many people do not want to accept responsibility for their choices. It’s always the other guy’s fault. The bully airlines picked on someone. Whine. I can’t bitch out the TSA employees over something they have no control over. Whine. I can’t talk about bombs and other incendiary devices, or safety. Whine. I have to conform to societial rules when flying on a plane owned by a company.

    Much of this spoiled brat behavior is costing us a fortune to fly. Every law suit, every delay, ker ching.

    I wish the airlines had been as alert on 9-11. But hindsight is 20/20.

  3. GainesvilleResident

    OK MH – funny on the 99% agreement! Yes, too bad we weren’t on the ball with airport security back in 9-11. I bet if they had tried that on El Al back then they wouldn’t have succeeded.

    In general, flying isn’t fun these days. But if you are going to whine about not being able to talk about bombs and having to put up with security checks, then you have a lot of problems in my opinion and don’t belong in the air. You are right – lawsuits just add to the cost of flying, which has gone up by a ridiculous amount with all the nickle and dime things they now charge you for. Do you want an aisle seat? That now costs extra. Soon they are going to start charging extra for seat cushions at the rate they are going!

  4. It’s real simple guys and gals. If you don’t feel safe boarding a flight for any reason, just be an adult and take the next flight.

  5. Moon-howler

    And they charge for extra bags, and getting through the airport is a huge pain. I don’t go as much as I used to just because it is so unpleasant getting there. Planes are horribly overcrowded also. Every flight I have been on the past 2 years has been packed to the gills.

    Worst of all are the jerks. They whine and complain about everything and act like they are flying first class when they are back in steerage along with everyone else. I have gotten increasingly impatient with people who want to tell us all about their rights in the airport.

    Guess we sit back and watch to see what our family of 9 is going to do. I will never understand why people just don’t want to remain inconspicuous.

  6. GainesvilleResident

    MH – the only reason I fly most of the time is because of work… I dread it each time I go, and of all airports Dulles is the among the worst. You are right – they pack the planes to the full these days, nearly every flight I’ve been on recently has been 100% full. When there were more flights in the old days before the airlines cut back, it was not uncommon to have many empty seats on the planes – of course that was not profitable for the airlines so they cut back the flights until they succeeded in selling out every flight.

    Everyone who flies should approach flying with the airlines with the idea being the only thing you should expect is they will get you from Point A to Point B – eventually (good luck getting there on time, and more importantly – be thankful if you make your connecting flight!). If so, I think people would be a lot happier and they wouldn’t complain so much. Anything else is a bonus. I know as a customer in theory you should expect a lot more – but these days if you lower your expectations you will be a lot happier as an airplane flier, as unless there is some seismic shift in the airlines – things aren’t going to change much for the better.

    One of my pet peeves is I realize people don’t like to check their baggage, but some of the stuff people haul through security and then also expect to fit in the overhead compartment is ridiculous! A year ago when I flew to China, some family must have tried to take every belonging they had as carry-on. I was in the waiting area when they arrived with several cartloads of stuff! The people manning the gate told them there was no way they could carry on so much stuff – and they loudly complained and made a big stink. I forget the outcome – although I know they got on the plane, and I THINK United Airlines caved and allowed them to carry on everything, or maybe they checked some of the stuff at the gate or something. I know I was sitting there watching this, and they were holding up the line at the gate for checking in there and being loud and unruly. Some people just think they can break the rules or the rules don’t apply to them for some reason. I’m glad I wasn’t behind them in the security line, that must have been a mess too.

  7. Moon-howler

    I have started looking at pleasure trips that are drivable. Airport hysteria can just ruin a pleasure trip. Fortunately, I don’t have to fly on business trips. Otherwise I might be tempted to go on welfare.

    Gainesville, your China story is hilarious….if you aren’t involved or flying with them. And I am sure they thought they were perfectly in the right. The carry on clown is one of my pet peeves also. They slow down loading an already packed plane by at least a half hour, shoving and jamming luggage that doesn’t fit into an overhead compartment.

    Have you noticed that flight attendants often have a snurl on their faces. They are trying to paste on a smile but somehow it just doesn’t quite make it? Those same ones who have a slightly psychotic look in their eyes? Who could blame them! A few passengers would have to die each flight if that were my job!

    I would rather pay more and raise my expectations. You are right about lowering your expectations to start with. Lower them or stay home.

  8. SecondAlamo


    You are soooo LAME! Sorry, it had to be said.

  9. GainesvilleResident

    MH – regarding flight attendants – I think you are right about that. Last year on a trip to Hawaii for work (sounds like more fun than it is – long hours and getting back to the hotel at midnight) – the flight attendants there didn’t even bother to try to smile. My coworker noted that they slammed down the food trays on everyone’s seat, and looked extremely bothered if asked anything. Maybe they were just having a bad day – but usually the Hawaii flights the flight crew is more upbeat than on other flights – so this was highly unusual. Other flights they do attempt to smile at least, but it does seem like as with everything else – the mood of the flight attendants has gone downhill too. Then again, that’s a job I could not do – if I were a flight attendant there’s lots of passengers I’d want to smack in the head. I’m sure their pay and benefits have not improved, and their work environment has gone downhill – so I guess it is to be expected. I’m like you – if I worked as a flight attendant there’d be some dead passengers – I have no patience for people like that!

    Your idea about driveable vacation trips is a good one. There certainly is plenty of places within a day or two drive, and at worst case you could stay overnight at some place along the way. You get to see a lot more of the country that way too instead of flying from Point A to Point B. A cross country drive would be interesting some time, but would chew up a lot of vacation time.

    My parents are into taking cruises, but that is something that I don’t think would really appeal to me. Then again, they took an Alaska cruise last year that sounded really good – although they said the worst part was the flight both directions. It was delayed going out there, they missed their connecting flight in Seattle, and nearly missed the cruise ship – just got there in the nick of time. They are back to looking at cruises in the Carribbean that they don’t have to fly to in order to reach the boat!

  10. Moon-howler

    There are all sorts of neat places I have never been to on the east coast. I prefer traveling in the west. Not going to drive there. Perhaps now is the time to get to my own neck of the woods and explore it.

    I wish that hotels/motels were more pet friendly on the east coast. In the west, places are much more pet friendly and for a few extra bucks, you can take a dog or 2. It is very difficult to find places to bring a pet.

    Who knows of neat drivable places to go that aren’t city settings?

  11. GainesvilleResident

    MH – it is a problem finding pet friendly hotels. Most of them want to stick you into a smoking room – and being a non-smoker I don’t like the smell of a room that has had someone smoking in. Unfortunately there are no good solutions there for traveling with your pet – which is something I would like to do too (I’ve tried it but have found the hotels that would accept the dog to be very substandard, or else been stuck in a smoking room at a better quality hotel).

    Up in New England there are lots of great places to visit in the summer time – it is not humid and the skies are clear, etc. I know as I have relatives up there and also spent several summers up there working at summer camps when I was young. I was just back there this past summer for a few days and really enjoyed it. New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine are great places to visit. Either a long day drive or else overnight someplace in the middle, but still plenty driveable from here in the summer time.

  12. Censored bybvbl

    M-h, as kiddos we would go to Thatcher State Park near Albany, NY when we visited our relatives. A few years ago some of us went back in late September and it was quite beautiful – colors changing, mist on the mountain. Many of my NY relatives would go to the Adirondaks – many deserted areas for camping. Lake George is nice if you can get away from the touristy areas.

    My pet peeve of air travel – in addition to the sardine effect – is how as soon as the plane lands, all those with carry-on luggage jump up and block the aisle as they fumble to get the crap out of the overhead bins. Everyone with no carry-on stuff has to wait on the rude bozos.

  13. GainesvilleResident

    The Adirondacks in NY are also very nice – Lake George as well as Lake Placid a bit further north.

    I hate waiting for the idiots with carry-on luggage to get their stuff so I can get off the plane. I also was seated in an aisle seat once and some bozo couldn’t fit his carry-on up there and dropped it and it hit me in the head. No apology or anything – he just looked at me like too bad, or that it was my fault for sitting in an aisle seat and reading a book and not paying attention or watching him try to stuff his super large thing in the overhead (in the process probably crushing other people’s stuff already in there). I suppose if I had been smart I should have claimed some kind of head injury and sued…. But I hate frivolous lawsuits which is what that would have been. I don’t have much patience for people with the overheads. The airlines need to be more strict about how many carry-ons you can have, and more importantly, the max size. They still seem to be way too lax about it in my opinion.

  14. Moon-howler

    You all are right about the substandard rooms if you take a pet. I would be willing to take the smoking room to keep my pets. I figure dog for cigarette is a fair trade. Afraid I am not a camper. My idea of roughing it is the Holiday Inn. I also travel with too much luggage. sigh.

  15. I still don’t understand why people ignore the obvious solution of taking themselves off the plane if they are afraid of the other passengers.

    I think it’s much more fair to just take yourself off rather than force others to leave.

  16. simon

    Obviously it is racial profiling. BUT it is not the government doing the racial profiling it is ordinary citizens like you and me (and that is an education process not a legal issue).

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