Southwest Airlines claims to operate on the principle of #SouthwestHeart, but when it comes to Muslim and Arab customers, it seems to be #SouthwestHeartless.
On April 6th, the airline kicked 26 year old Khairuldeen Makhzoomi off a flight after a customer overheard him speaking Arabic on his phone. The airline called the authorities and Makhzoomi was subjected to an FBI interrogation—simply for making a phone call to his uncle.1
On April 13th, a Southwest flight attendant removed Hakima Abdulle, a woman of Somali descent wearing a hijab, from a flight after she tried to switch seats with fellow passengers.2
In both cases, Southwest Airlines has yet to apologize. No one should be made to feel unsafe on a flight or denied service because of their race, religion, or the language they speak.
But on Southwest Airlines flights, customers are experiencing just that. We're demanding they apologize and implement policy changes.
These recent cases are just part of a trend of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab discrimination by Southwest Airlines—last November, the airline delayed two men from boarding a flight after they had a conversation in Arabic together.3
That same week, a Southwest pilot removed several Arabic-speaking passengers from a plane after they tried to be seated together.4
People shouldn't be barred from air travel just for speaking Arabic, being Muslim, or wearing a hijab.
It's clear that Southwest needs to make some changes in how it treats its customers.
We're calling on them to publicly apologize for discrimination, review their policies, and implement anti-bias training for flight crews.
1. "Southwest Airlines draws outrage over man removed for speaking Arabic," The Guardian, Apr 16, 2016
2. "Maryland Muslim woman removed from Southwest flight," Fox 5 DC, Apr 15, 2016
3. "A man’s flight was delayed because he was overheard speaking Arabic," Fusion, Nov 20, 2015
4. "Passengers Removed From Hobby-Bound Plane Over Seating Dispute," ABC 13, Nov 18, 2015