Arab-American family kicked off flight for 'safety of flight issue'

DEARBORN, Mich. – An Arab-American family originally from Dearborn is outraged after they were asked to leave a United Airlines flight in Chicago for security reasons.

The couple lives in Chicago and was taking their three children on vacation to Washington D.C. over spring break.

While on board, Eaman-Amy Saad Shebley, the mother, asked a flight attendant about five-point harnesses for their kids. The attendant said she had no idea what they were talking about.

Moments later, they were told they had to get off.

The pilot explained to the family that the reason they needed to get off the plane was a “safety of flight issue.”

Shebley posted cellphone video to Facebook saying, “Shame on you United Airlines for profiling my family for no reason than how we look. My three kids are too young to have experienced this.”

After getting off the plane, the family talked with customer service who apologized at length and got them on another plane. They also filed a complaint.

“Unfortunately there’s a growing problem on airlines of Muslims being removed from flights when they cause no reasonable security concerns,” the Executive Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations of Michigan Dawud Walid said.

United Airlines released the following statement:

“We rebooked them on a later flight because of concerns about their child’s safety seat, which did not comply with federal safety regulations. Both United and SkyWest hold our employees to the highest staneards of professionalism and have zero tolerance for discrimination.”


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About the Author:

Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.