Delta says passengers removed from flight for ‘provocative behavior’ — not for speaking Arabic
Delta Air Lines Inc removed two men from a plane at London’s Heathrow Airport before takeoff on Wednesday, and one of the men accused the airline of acting on passenger complaints that he had been speaking on a phone in Arabic.
In a statement after Delta Flight 1 landed in New York, Delta said the man, Adam Saleh, and the other passenger were removed because they “sought to disrupt the cabin with provocative behavior, including shouting.” The airline said its information was based on statements collected from the flight crew and other passengers.
Saleh, a Muslim American and YouTube personality, has posted what he calls “experiment” videos in the past showing him speaking Arabic on planes.
On Wednesday, Saleh posted a video to his verified Twitter account, followed by 315,000 users, showing himself and a second passenger being escorted off of the flight.
“We’re getting kicked out because we spoke a different language… Six white people against us bearded men,” he said from the plane’s cabin.
Several passengers can be seen heckling him and waving goodbye as he leaves the aircraft.
It was not immediately clear what took place before the recording began.
“What is paramount to Delta is the safety and comfort of our passengers and employees. It is clear these individuals sought to violate that priority,” the Delta statement said.
Airlines have in recent months battled negative publicity over incidents in which Muslim passengers were removed from flights.
In November, a supporter of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump was allowed to stay on a domestic U.S. flight after going on an expletive-filled rant. He was later banned for life from Delta flights.
(Reporting by Alana Wise; Editing by Howard Goller and Grant McCool)