NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Four men from Brighton Beach, Brooklyn have filed a lawsuit against American Airlines, claiming they were racially profiled and kicked off a plane that was supposed to bring them home from Canada.
As CBS2’s Sonia Rincon reported, the longtime friends from Brooklyn had boarded the American Airlines flight after a weekend in Toronto. Shan Anand and Faimul Alal said they were doing nothing out of the ordinary, but the gate agent told them they had to go.
“They came to us and said, you know, ‘Take our belongings and exit the aircraft.’ At that point, like, everybody just around us was just, like, looking at us,” Alal said. “The way she said it wasn’t, like, low either, so it was at least like three rows ahead.
“It wasn’t the proper way to say it,” Anand said. “They came to us and they told us, you know, ‘Get your belongings and exit the aircraft.’”
They said being escorted off the plane was mortifying.
“It was probably the longest walk of my life,” Alal said.
Two of their friends had upgraded to business class. Another two were in another row. Anand said they were told the flight crew found that suspicious.
“Inconsistency in the way we travel because some of us upgraded and some of us didn’t; that they felt uneasy,” Anand said.
Four of the men were booked on the next flight, they said, with no further explanation. Their attorney, Tahanie Aboushi, said the airline has protocols it could have followed — but didn’t.
“Seems like it was definitely discrimination,” Aboushi said.
The young men are born-and-raised New Yorkers. Alal’s family is from India, Anand’s from Bangladesh.
They had heard about racial profiling following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but never personally experienced it.
“You just hope things change and people are still not, like, this ignorant toward these things, but then when it happens to you, you see it from a different light,” Anand said.
Their lawsuit demands an apology from American Airlines and $9 million in total damages. CBS2 reached out to American, which said only that it is reviewing the lawsuit.