It was a tough choice between the title above and, “United Airlines Hits Bottom, Digs.” A week after losing close to a billion dollars in share value after forcing a ticketed, seated passenger to get off a plane such that one of their own staff could take his seat, via police who caused enough injury to require hospitalization in the process, and 2 weeks after they denied 2 middle school girls boarding under a sexist dress code policy they apply to family members of United employees, you might think that United would be on their best behavior.
“Hold my beer,” United CEO Oscar Munoz can metaphorically (if not literally) be heard shouting across the terminal.
Earlier this week, a New York mom reported that she was required to go to the U.S. Customs & Border Patrol office at Newark Airport to pick up her husband and young daughter, on vacation in Mexico for a week, because a passenger presenting no reason other than the daughter’s skin color was lighter than the father’s told a United flight attendant that she found the pair to be suspicious, and United, apparently agreeing, had federal law enforcement meet the plane. Mom is of Irish descent, and dad, Mexican, and this by itself is enough to get dragged off the flight upon arrival, assuming you were allowed to fly in your own seat in the first place:
After our 3-year-old snoozed on her father’s lap for most of the flight, the plane landed. He texted me to tell me they had arrived. When the plane taxied to the gate, however, a number of officers from the Port Authority and Customs and Border Patrol boarded the plane, approached my husband and instructed him to grab his carry-ons and follow them. He and our daughter were escorted out of the plane before anyone else could get off.
The passenger who shared her “concern” with the flight attendants had been sitting next to my husband. According to him, she had been friendly throughout the flight, but my husband noticed her strange obsession with our daughter, sometimes throwing her body over his to try to engage my daughter.
As compensation for this “re-accommodation,” as surely Mr. Munoz would call it, United offered the family a $100 travel voucher.
I think what is even more surprising to me is that the commentary on even the strongly left-leaning Huffington Post, who appears to have broke the story, contained a plethora of comments defending the actions of the passenger, flight attendants, and CBP, because it’s always “better to be safe than sorry” (just as they would assuredly dismiss the TSA touching your genitals with “anything to keep us safer”). (Click the little thought bubble on the left to read)
Alexis Nola, for example, is a fan of “see something, say something…”
…and pay no mind to the fact that she was sitting peacefully with her father for the whole flight, because she may have been too drugged to express her situation, even though she could walk on and off the plane…
Kimberly Ziegelheafer wants us to know that child trafficking is “running rampant” and, apparently, stopping every adult/child pair who does not look alike (er, let’s be real here, it’s only a father/child pair who would encounter this form of discrimination), dragging them into the back room of a CBP office, and not releasing them until someone female alleges that she is the mother and all is well…
Carolyn Sue Greig alleges she would have baked cookies for these assholes, had it been her husband and child…
But I assume the white woman from Texas with 2 first names has probably never experienced discrimination in her life and does not understand that yes, this is a big deal. There are millions of children in this country with step-parents who look nothing like their child, and they don’t deserve to be dragged off of flights. It’s traumatizing to the child and, frankly, to the adult as well. It also doesn’t take more than a cursory search of the Internet to find that fathers alone with child are regularly given extra scrutiny, whether it’s at the playground or, apparently, simply traveling home.
United Airlines had no business reporting this incident to the police absent the suspecting passenger being able to articulate some reason for her suspicion beyond the color of their skin (the same goes for Muslim-looking men who are dragged off of planes after purely imagined suspicious behavior). This family is owed much more than a $100 voucher, and I, for one, hope to see Mr. Munoz given the boot after another billion gets wiped off their market cap.
Gee, everyone knows adult men never travel with minor children. Or adult children as far as that goes. About 2 years ago I was asked to drive to Winnipeg to pick up a 20 year old UND student at the airport, and drive her back to UND in Grand Forks. I knew nothing about the girl other then she was a UND student returning from a Canadian vacation where she had been with her Canadian boy friend. Obviously, there must be something wrong when a 70 year old man attempts to cross the American border with a hot looking 20 year old girl. So, border security held us up for a couple of hours doing their deep probing interviews of each of us. Forget the fact the girl had her UND identification and was returning to UND and lived in Grand Forks, there must be something bad going on here. What is frightening is if the girl had been pushed by border patrol to even mildly indicate some type of wrong doing, I could have ended up in jail and meeting new romantic interests.
By the way, to travel to Mexico or Canada with your own child, you need a notarized letter from the other parent giving you permission to do so. But, if passenger had any woman with him who he “claimed” as his wife, he could traffic a dozen children without a question being raised. Nor is it likely a woman would ever be questioned about a child she was traveling with. Child’s gender of course also makes a difference. A few years ago I returned from Canada with 4 teenage boys. All looked of different races, because one was adopted and 3 others were from different marriages. I had no permission slips from mothers for any of them. Still, border patrol just laughed and passed us through.
I disagree here. United did nothing wrong. The flight attendants should not be asked to play detective. They get a report, they should pass it on to law enforcement without evaluating it.
The problem here (and with another similar incident not long ago) is how the police handle such incidents. Rather than assuming something is wrong the first thing the cop should be doing is explaining there was a report that it looked like trafficking, can you show that it’s your kid?
In general this would take 30 seconds, end of issue.
Calling the police on someone will result in their detention, almost invariably. It should only be done upon reasonable grounds. A passenger concerned about relative skin color is not something that require’s *anyone’s* investigation.
But in a case like this it should result in a very short detention. The problem is the police treating the people as suspects rather than attempting to resolve the issue quickly.
The police should be looking at such reports as akin to a welfare check as opposed to a suspect.
I’ve read too many reports of people, including children, getting detained, seriously injured, and even killed by police during a “welfare check”. A report to police on such thin grounds is akin to doxxing and swatting people and should be treated as such.
Also, relative skin color is meaningless. Kylee Hodgson is kind of a Mediterranean or Caribbean mid-brown. So is Remi Horder. They got together and had fraternal twins: Remee looks like she’s from Norway, while Kian looks like she’s from Nigeria.
Muslim Advocates Files Lawsuits About Electronic Privacy and Profiling Abuses at Borders and Airports:
“Airports and borders are not Constitution-free zones, and no one should be targeted or profiled simply because of what they look like or assumptions by federal officials about their religious practice,” said Johnathan Smith, legal director for Muslim Advocates. “DHS can’t continue to stonewall reasonable inquiries into their actions.”
“There is substantial reason to believe that DHS is using its official power to discriminate against Muslim people.” said Amir Ali, Supreme Court and appellate counsel for MacArthur Justice Center’s Washington D.C. office. “Getting DHS to turn over this information is the first step to understanding just how serious and prevalent this problem is.”
To read the lawsuits go to the hyperlink below.