U.S. Airways Responds to Decision to Remove Imams from Plane

I respectfully address Asma Mobin-Uddin's Sunday letter where she repeated some of the misinformation concerning the US Airways flight in Minneapolis in which six Muslim clerics were removed from a plane and detained for questioning by police and the FBI. They were later cleared.

Mobin-Uddin stated, for example, that the US Airways crew acted on the basis of a complaint from one customer. Let me reiterate that several customers raised concerns about behaviors, which also were observed by the flight crew.

Moreover, the decision to remove the passengers was not based on the fact that they were praying in a terminal, but rather several factors on board the aircraft, all outlined in the police report. The decision to remove the imams for questioning was made in concert with ground security, the US Airways operations center, local police and the FBI.

US Airways does not profile and takes safety and security of all passengers very seriously. We find it unfortunate that she likened our processes to the Ku Klux Klan and witch hunts. Any passengers, regardless of religion, race or creed, acting in the same way would have resulted in the same actions and procedures.

We aren't perfect, however. The next day, a miscommunication occurred between headquarters and the field crew, which led to the imams not being rebooked the following morning. When we realized that they had been denied boarding that morning, our Minneapolis general manager went through the airport looking for them. By then, they had already booked on Northwest. We did meet them when they arrived in Phoenix.

We consider this primarily a customer-service and security issue and reiterate that, although we are always concerned when passengers are inconvenienced, our crew and ground employees made the appropriate call.

--VALERIE WUNDER, US Airways Corporate Communications, Tempe, Ariz.


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