An incident on a Delta flight has prompted a complaint to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee as well as significant attention on Twitter. Darlene Hider, an Arab-American woman, who wears a hijab, said she was boarding a Delta Airlines flight with her husband and four children Monday when another passenger complained about her children and yelled at her, "This is America!" A ticketing agent who was on the aircraft to help in the boarding process for the Fort Lauderdale-to-Detroit flight did not reprimand the passenger in question, Hider said, but instead asked Hider's family to move to other open seats, WWJ reports.
Hider, who lives in Dearborn, Michigan, has since contacted the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee about the incident – part of which was videotaped by another passenger. Hider, 32, said the attendant told her to “change seats” and “you better be quiet before I kick you off of this plane!"
Brian Kruse, a spokesman for Delta Airlines, said the company was reviewing the situation. "We have been in touch with the customer,” he told the Detroit Free Press. “Delta does not condone discrimination of any kind."
According to Hider the incident began when her family was boarding. The woman in front of her turned around and told her to “control her kids,” she told Mashable. She later said, “This is America!” Hider’s husband told the woman to turn around. At that point a ticketing agent intervened, heard Hider’s story and asked her family to move.
"Not only did I feel belittled by the passenger, now I am being spoken down to and scolded by a Delta ticket agent," Hider told Mashable. "I was afraid to defend myself because of my scarf, at that moment, I felt that I couldn't defend myself."
Delta confirmed that after the flight landed Hider was met by two representatives who told her the company would investigate the incident. The airline was made aware of the confrontation thanks to Hider’s brother Abed Ayoub, who is the legal and policy director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Ayoub tweeted details about the incident and his tweets went viral.
— Abed A. Ayoub (@aayoub) February 2, 2015
"I felt like I couldn't defend myself because I was afraid to be called a terrorist" - My sister, mother of 4, after being harassed on plane
— Abed A. Ayoub (@aayoub) February 3, 2015
Since the incident, other passengers from the flight have voiced their support for Hider. On Facebook Joelle Ghorayeb called the ticketing agent “disrespectful and rude.” And in a separate post Ghorayeb said Hider’s family was “very well-behaved” in the terminal and on the plane. “In fact, we were surrounded by teenagers that were making more noise than these kids!”
“Too bad the video did not show Darlene thanking [the attendant] at the end of the debacle and telling her how much she appreciates her assistance!” Ghorayeb said. “Poor Darlene was crying and just wanted to get this settled to get home while that b---- threatened to kick them off the plane!”