Southwest Airlines is offering a political journalist vouchers after he claimed a flight attendant treated his wife poorly on a Sunday night flight to Washington because she was wearing a hijab.
Mehdi Hasan, a British columnist for The Intercept and a presenter for Al Jazeera English, began raising hell Monday on Twitter. He said the airline destroyed the end to his family’s Thanksgiving holiday. Some five days later, he and his family are still waiting for a meaningful response from the airline that doesn’t involve sweeping the whole thing under the rug. (RELATED: British Journo Says Muslim Wife Was Unfairly Targeted On Southwest Flight)
He wants a public apology. So far he isn’t getting one.
“Update & a new thread from me,” Hasan tweeted Friday. “@SouthwestAir have apologized privately but refuse to apologize publicly; offered travel vouchers to fly with them (!) that don’t cover the costs of our flights; & have made up a totally false narrative.”
There are two versions of the incident.
Southwest is talking, but not saying much.
Version #1: On board SW Flight 5539 to D.C. Sunday night, Hasan’s wife asked another passenger to switch seats with her so she could sit with her family. This sounded alarm bells for a flight attendant, who said the woman was making passengers “uncomfortable” and warned that she could be removed from the plane. She reportedly called ground control to cover her ass.
“I heard the flight attendant tell a passenger she was calling ground crew to cover herself in the event of a complaint from my wife!” he explained.
According to Hasan, the incident left his wife, who was wearing a hijab, distraught and in tears.
Version #2: A Southwest spokesperson told The Sun Newspaper that the airline is communicating privately with the family. The spokesperson also said, “We understand that some passengers were involved in a disagreement over seat selection.”
The Mirror has issued multiple requests for comment from Southwest Airlines. But so far I’ve received zilch.
Lots of journalists routinely whine about their travel experiences. But many do not involve ethnic components. Most are pretty stupid, actually. (RELATED: MSNBC Reporter Complaints That A Delayed Acela Destroyed His TV Hit)
And who can forget the time that NYT columnist Charles Blow claimed that no one would sit next to him on the pricey Acela train because he’s black?
Hasan is calling bullshit on Southwest.
“This is false,” he wrote. “There was no disagreement, only a flight attendant who was trying to incite passengers against my hijab-wearing wife.”
He continued, “@southwestAir in all their DM conversations with me have ignored the fact that their flight attendant told my wife she was making passengers ‘uncomfortable’ (which is false) by ‘reading’ their faces (huh?). Uncomfortable, by politely asking for a swap which every family does?”
Hasan is convinced that the Southwest flight attendant reacted as she did because his wife is Muslim. “This had nothing to do with the passengers, or seat saving or swapping (which Southwest have no policy on, they say),” he tweeted. “It has everything to do with the *flight attendant* – who targeted & threatened my wife for no good reason. Unless her hijab is a good reason.”
Hasan said Southwest should be ashamed.
“I’m now more furious than I was on Sunday. Then it was a rude and racist flight attendant. Now it’s an entire airline, an entire company, that seems unconcerned by, even maybe covering up, racism and harassment onboard. Shame on you @southwestAir.”