An Arab-American family claims it was racially profiled and kicked off a United Airlines flight at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, but the airline says the family was rebooked on a later flight over concerns about a child’s safety seat.
In a Facebook post that has been shared nearly 20,000 times, Eaman-Amy Saad Shebley wrote she and her family were on a plane heading to Washington, D.C., when they were asked to leave the aircraft. The post includes two videos of the incident.
In one clip, a woman identified by NBC affiliate WDIV as a flight attendant says to the family, "We’re going to ask that you step off the aircraft with all your belongings." A man asks why, and the flight attendant replies, "Because they are investigating."
A man WDIV identifies as the pilot says in a second video the family must leave the plane because "it is a safety of flight issue."
Shebley claimed in the post her family was profiled for "no reason [other] than how we look," adding that her three kids "are too young to have experienced this."
A spokesperson for the airline sent the following emailed statement:
"We reached out to the family following their flight on March 20 to discuss their concerns. They were originally scheduled to fly on SkyWest 5811, operating as United Express from Chicago O’Hare to Washington, D.C., but 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 standards of professionalism and have zero tolerance for discrimination."
When asked for further comment, Shebley referred NBC Chicago to the Chicago branch of the Council on American Islamic Relations, which has yet to respond to inquiries.