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Fliers Made Others Nervous. Delta Fined Over Its Reaction

US Transportation Department found the airline violated federal statutes against discrimination
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2020 9:44 AM CST
In this 2012 file photo, a Delta Air Lines 747-400 sits parked at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

(Newser) – Nazia and Faisal Ali marked their 10th anniversary with a trip to Paris, but things took a turn when they tried to return home to Ohio—and what happened next is now costing Delta. The US Transportation Department fined the airline $50,000 over that and a second incident involving Muslim fliers that the department said violated federal statutes against discrimination. In the case of the Alis, a fellow passenger on Flight 229 indicated to a flight attendant that the couple's behavior unnerved them and that the husband seemed to "insert something plastic into his watch," per USA Today. The flight attendant said she walked by him as he was texting and noted the word Allah "several times." The US citizens were asked to leave the plane, where they were questioned by security and then OKed to reboard the flight to Cincinnati—except the pilot wouldn't let them back on.

That first incident happened on July 26, 2016; the second, just five days later, reports the New York Times. A Muslim man boarded a Delta flight in Amsterdam that was headed to New York City. Other fliers told flight attendants that it looked as if someone of a "similar ethnicity" who did not board the plane gave him a package; flight attendants noted that the man moved to a window seat and seemed to be sweating. Delta Corporate Security said the man "had no red flags" and the plane left the gate, only to return, at which point the captain asked that the man be rebooked on another flight. The department's consent order, issued Friday, also requires Delta to have some staff undergo civil rights training. Delta maintains its behavior wasn't discriminatory but allowed "our best customer service was not reflected" in the incidents. (Read more Delta Air Lines stories.)

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