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A Black family traveling with a newborn baby was kicked off an American Airlines flight on Sunday as they headed home to Philadelphia from Charlotte, North Carolina. They plan to take legal action.
As seen in a now-viral video, Allan Ali and his partner, Kamia Hoilett, were asked to leave a Sunday afternoon flight before departure after a brief, negative interaction with a white male passenger and a white female flight attendant.
The Shade Room interviewed Ali, who said the incident escalated when he and his infant-holding partner stood to let a man who was sitting in their row into his seat. Ali said the man aggressively spoke to them, saying, “Y’all have to get up.”
According to Ali, the couple tried to exit the row to let the man in, but the flight attendant was blocking the path. He said Hoilett asked her for space, but the airline employee responded, “Is this going to be a problem?”
The situation then escalated when the same flight attendant told Hoilett to sit down and buckle her seatbelt in what they describe as “a passive-aggressive tone.”
Hoilett told the attendant she didn’t like the manner in which she was being spoken to, and the employee then “stormed off” to report the incident to the captain, who instructed the flight attendants to remove the family from the flight.
In the now-viral video posted to Instagram, Hoilett is heard repeatedly saying, “I didn’t do anything.” Her partner then recaps the incident, saying that they were being asked to leave the flight with their child.
The couple left the 1 p.m. flight and were finally able to depart Charlotte at 8:20 p.m.
American Airlines told the Grio Tuesday afternoon that the company is investigating the incident and has reached out to Ali as well as the other involved passengers and employees.
“Our values demand that all customers are treated fairly and with respect, and we find the video posted by the family concerning,” the company said in an emailed statement. “This matter has our full attention and we will take appropriate action as necessary.”
Ali and Hoilett feel that despite being put on another flight, they were treated unfairly. Ali told The Shade Room that he has spoken to an attorney and plans to file an official complaint.
Another couple recently took legal action against American Airlines because they were kicked off a flight in August after they refused to place a bag containing a sacred prayer shawl on the floor.
Roberto and Elana Birman, a Jewish couple married 52 years, were carrying a Tallit bag — a clear, 8.5 inch-by-8.5-inch plastic carrier — for Mr. Birman’s prayer book and shawl, which was placed in the overhead bin. According to reporting from The New York Post, an attendant on their flight from Miami threw the bag into his lap and told him it had to go under the seat.
When Birman told the attendant that the religious item could not go on the floor, the flight attendant reportedly responded, “It doesn’t matter.” He and his wife refused, with Mrs. Birman calling the request akin to asking a Christian to “throw a cross on the floor” where it could be stepped on.
Per Post reporting, “The pilot came over but didn’t speak to them, the Birmans said. Eventually, a ground crew member was called and urged them to follow him off the plane, they said.” The Birmans recently filed a suit against the airline.
“My clients were ejected from the flight based on the prejudices and complete lack of sensitivity of American Airlines employees for reasons wholly unrelated to security,” said their lawyer, Brad Gerstman. “The flight attendant and pilot’s conduct was as offensive as it was illogical.”
American Airlines is reportedly reviewing the Birmans’ suit, and has not yet issued a response to the incident involving Ali and Hoilett.
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