A major American airline has been ordered to pay tens of thousands of dollars after it was found that the company failed to follow proper security protocol and discriminated against Muslim travelers.
The US Department of Transportation issued a release on Friday which revealed Delta Air Lines had been charged $50,000 in civil penalties and ordered to ensure “certain Delta flight and cabin crews and customer service representatives” undergo civil rights training following two incidents involving Muslim passengers in 2016.
Soon after, the captain contacted Delta Corporate Security and was informed that the couple, identified in an August 2016 Washington Post article as Nazia and Faisal Ali, were US citizens returning home from a trip to Europe and had “no red flags.” Nevertheless, the Alis were taken off the plane at the captain’s request and ordered to undergo additional vetting, despite having passed through previous security screenings.
The officer who interviewed the couple ultimately cleared them for travel and described the duo as “not having an aggressive attitude, but more of a stressed one and incomprehension on their part.” While the Alis were granted approval to return to their flight, the captain refused to allow the couple back on his plane, citing flight attendants’ discomfort. The Alis would have to wait until the following day to get on a flight back to the US. The Transportation Department determined that the couple’s “perceived religion” influenced the Delta employees’ conduct and actions toward the Alis on Flight 229.
The second investigation was launched following a review of Delta passenger complaints between June 30, 2016, and June 30, 2018. It was found that a Muslim passenger, identified as “Mr. A” in the consent order, was also subjected to discrimination – just five days after the Alis – on Flight 49 out of Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport on July 31, 2016.
However, the plane returned to the gate after the flight attendants reiterated their discomfort with Mr. A being on the flight. The traveler was then removed from the plane and booked on a later flight. The Transportation Department concluded that this incident was “discriminatory,” as Mr. A had already been cleared to fly and Delta security protocol was not followed pertaining to his removal and rebooking.
Nevertheless, the major airliner has been fined $50,000 and ordered to have select employees undergo civil rights training. The Transportation Department also called for the carrier to “enhance its e-training civil rights program.”