Flashback: AirTran Flight 175

Canada Free Press

By Doug Hagmann  Sunday, December 6, 2009

It was January 1, 2009 when passengers aboard an AirTran flight 175 departing from Reagan National Airport became alarmed by a conversation they overheard between two other passengers, dressed in Muslim attire, talking about the safest place to sit on board an aircraft in the event a bomb was aboard. The two Muslim passengers were among a party of nine traveling together from Washington DC to Orlando, Florida to attend an Islamic conference.

According to one witness report at the time, the content of the conversation not only seemed suspicious, but “deliberately” loud or at least loud enough to be over heard by a number of other passengers seated nearby. Those alarmed passengers reported their concerns to the AirTran flight crew, who subsequently caused all 104 passengers, including the 9 Muslims, to deplane while an investigation was conducted. All passengers were rescreened and permitted to re-board, except those nine-(9) Muslims at the center of controversy who were traveling together.

At that time, AirTran made a decision not to allow the Muslims back onto the aircraft. Although the FBI reportedly concluded their investigation of the Muslim passengers, the investigation into the incident itself was not yet fully complete.  Concurrent investigations were incomplete at the time, according to airline sources. To their credit, acting within their rights and in consideration to the safety of all of their passengers, AirTran denied the controversial party boarding back onto the already disrupted flight.

In the end, none of the remaining 95 passengers made it to their ultimate destinations on time, AirTran refunded some tickets and made other booking arrangements due to the incident, which cost the airline dearly in time, money, and passenger goodwill.

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