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Passenger accuses American Airlines of forcing him to remove Palestine top, threatening to remove him if he did not comply

December 4, 2023 at 5:52 pm

NYC skyline view from airport with airplane taking off [Getty]

A passenger on an American Airlines flight has condemned the company for forcing him to hide his top for displaying the word “Palestine”, in the latest move by an American or Western company discriminating against expression in support of Palestine.

According to reports and screenshots, the unnamed passenger stated on his social media that he was travelling on American Airlines flight 2829 from New York JFK Airport to Phoenix, Arizona, in late November, when the flight crew told him to hide or turn inside-out his jumper which displayed the word “Palestine” and related illustrations without any “offensive or profane” material.

The crew reportedly claimed that passengers are forbidden from wearing anything political, expressing concerns about how other passengers might feel. “What about my feelings?” he replied. They then warned him that he would be removed from the flight by law enforcement if he did not comply.

He “decided to comply” as he “didn’t know” his rights. According to American Airlines’ policy on passenger attire, passengers are required to “dress appropriately” and that “Bare feet or offensive clothing aren’t allowed”. It does not, however, mention political clothing, specifically.

In his complaint on social media, the passenger accused the company of being “complicit in the murders of innocent Palestinian children in Gaza”.

Following the passenger’s complaint, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) condemned the Airline over the incident, saying in a statement that it is “deeply troubled” and that the “action taken by American Airlines is not only discriminatory but also contributes to the broader context of prejudice against Palestinians and their right to self-identification”.

It said that the demand, warning and threat to the passenger “reflects a distressing disregard for the fundamental rights of individuals to express their cultural and national identities”, adding that it is “emblematic of a larger pattern of discrimination that Palestinians and their supporters often face, highlighting a concerning trend of silencing and marginalising their voices.”

The ADC further called on the Airline to issue a formal apology to the passenger, as well as inviting it to engage in “direct dialogue” with the ADC to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.

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