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Southwest Airlines Apologizes To Muslim Passenger

25 March 2011 Uncategorized 6 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

By Omar Sacirbey
Religion News Service

Southwest Airlines has apologized to a Muslim woman who claims she was removed from a flight from San Diego on Sunday (March 13) because of her Islamic headscarf and South Asian background.

“We sincerely apologize for the customer’s inconvenience, and we regret that she was unable to travel as scheduled,” the airline said in a statement issued Wednesday after Irum Abbasi, a U.S. citizen originally from Pakistan, demanded an apology.

Abbasi, a 31-year-old mother of three, was traveling to San Jose, Calif. when she was escorted off the plane. A crew member thought she was acting suspicious, and had said “It’s a go,” in a cell phone conversation.

Abbasi claims she actually said “I’ve got to go” because the plane was about to take off.

“She was an emotional wreck. She was crying,” said Edgar Hopida, a spokesman for the San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “We need to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

Abassi’s ejection occurred the same day that Alaska Airlines removed three Jewish passengers from a flight because ritual prayers they were saying before take-off alarmed crew members.

Abbasi was later met by TSA officers who realized the error and did not search her or her bags. Southwest gave Abbasi a ticket for the next flight to San Jose, and a travel voucher “as a gesture of goodwill.”

A Southwest spokesman said the airline was investigating the incident, but that it was against company policy to discuss whether any employees will be disciplined.


  1. Southwest Airlines gave her nothing. She had PAID for the ticket for the flight she was removed from. So, they gave her what she had already paid for, and they should provide the service she PAID for.

  2. Actually, this is nothing but an absolute public embarasement. How could? i mean how could this be, just because she’s put on some head scarf, or does scarf now signify some kinda terrorist stuff or something? Now, it is quite clear that these, people need to learn more about islam and all that the muslims are. We (the muslims) preach nothing morethan PEACE and HARMONY.

  3. aliyu,

    i try to ask muslims about islam all the time. perhaps you will be kind enough to respond, they don’t. i saw there was a bangladeshi girl lashed to death for adultery. doesn’t the koran command that adulterers and fornicators be lashed? doesn’t sound like peace and harmony to me?

    also today’s news

    Witnesses said a crowd of several hundred staged a protest outside the Blue Mosque in the city after Friday prayers.

    PEACE and HARMONY, why is the muslim world so violent than? they kill people after prayers! REALLY!!!

  4. Better safe than sorry.

  5. Laurel, the woman was given a travel voucher also. I hope it was for a round trip ticket. Whatever nationality you are, it is always best to be very careful what you say at the airport. Security must be tight because of past incidents that have occurred. It is important to realize that in american, this woman has alot more freedom than where she is from. She would not be able to travel alone in her country. In her home, if she even complains that she has been wrong, she still could be lashed for just speaking. We live in a very dangerous and scarey world. But please remember, in the United States, this is done for everyone’s protection.
    Mistakes will be made but also realize how many times our safety procedures have saved lifes. There are many flights from San Diego to San Jose daily on Southwest. It was just a matter of hours. On April 2nd 2011, many flights were delayed and then cancelled because of the emergency landing of a SW Flight on Friday, April 1st 2011. We are all thankful that none was injured and I am grateful that flights were cancelled to do inspections of flights. My son’s flights were cancelled even after he rebooked them, eventually returning to school instead of travelling for a sport. If no one is injured then life will go one. The Islamic woman is always able to return to her homeland. However, even with this incident, I can guarantee you that she lives a better, peaceful life in the USA. The US makes many mistakes but I would not want to leave elsewhere. Peace.

  6. You know how much the travel voucher was? 197$. She gave it away while I was present so I have actually seen the voucher.
    For all the woman went through, give me a break.

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