Delta fined for discriminating against Muslim passengers

Delta Airlines received a $50,000 fine after discriminating against three Muslim passengers who were barred from flying despite being cleared by the airline's own security personnel.

From the order issued by the Department of Transport, which describes two similar incidents on separate Delta flights:

4. We order Delta AirLines, Inc. to provide civil rights training (including cultural sensitivity training)to all flight and cabin crewmembers and all customer service employees involved in these incidents–to the extent that those individuals are and remain active employees of Delta Air Lines, Inc. That training must make clear that, in the absence of a valid safety or security concern, passenger or crew discomfort is not an acceptable basis to deny transportation. …

5. We order Delta AirLines, Inc. to revise its security and secondary screening protocols to include clear procedures consistent with Federal law to allow passengers to re-board the aircraft after appropriate security personnel determine that the initial security and safety concerns have been eliminated if the aircraft is still at the gate.

The fine is tiny but the publicity will hurt. The New York Times reports that one couple was removed from the flight to placate another passenger who said they were "uncomfortable."

"They were just kicked off this flight without any explanation," Ms. Hassan said in an interview on Monday night, adding, "To be treated in this way and be marginalized in this way simply because of your Muslim appearance was disheartening for them."

She said the couple had first complained to the airline, which she characterized as having been dismissive. "Really, they were just concerned about this happening to other Muslims," she said of the couple.

The couple were returning home to the Cincinnati area from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and had boarded Delta Flight 229 on July 26, 2016, when another passenger told a flight attendant that their behavior made that passenger "very uncomfortable and nervous," the Transportation Department said. The wife had been wearing a head scarf at the time, transportation officials said.

The "you're making other people uncomfortable" magic spell doesn't work anymore, at least not for airlines.