CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Council on American Islamic Relations wants Spirit Airlines to apologize for removing four people from a Chicago-bound flight.
Spirit Airlines Flight 969 was preparing for takeoff at the Baltimore airport when a passenger told a flight attendant of "suspicious activity" on the plane. CAIR said the suspicious activity was a man who appears to be of Middle Eastern descent watching a news clip on his cell phone.
CAIR said the passengers were inconvenienced and deserve a public apology.
"The threshold for 'see something, say something' is meant to apply to suspicious behavior, not personal prejudices against minorities engaging in non-suspicious behavior," said CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab. "Watching news on your smartphone has never qualified as a security threat or as suspicious behavior and could have been easily vetted as such with minimal inquiry by the flight crew. That this was escalated into an ordeal seems to be exclusively due to the passenger's perceived ethnicity."
Spirit Airlines released a statement: We do not tolerate discrimination or remove passengers because of where they are from, their ethnicity, or their religion. The passenger in question was removed from the flight because of his behavior, which was breaking airline and FAA rules during the taxiing process, and refusing to cooperate with crew instructions.
Spirit said police were called and they decided to remove the passenger and three others who were traveling with him.