Robert “Bobby” Abtahi — a prominent Texas lawyer — was recently boarding a flight home from New York when he was told he could not get on his flight because the crew didn’t “feel comfortable” with him on board.
Mind you, Abtahi is Iranian-American and had a beard at the time as he hadn’t shaved in several days.
Abtahi, of course, asked why the crew felt that way and a gate attendant reportedly told him that he had cut-off a cabin member from entering the airport.
He recalled the situation they were referring to, but he didn’t realize it was such a big deal. He said the woman involved got behind him in the same stall of a revolving door and they both fumbled their way inside. He also didn’t even know she was a crew member at that time, according to Daily Mail.
Despite Abtahi offering to apologize to the woman, the airline still refused to allow him on his flight and he was forced to switch airlines and buy a new ticket.
Virgin America has since issued a statement saying the incident was “the result of a misunderstanding” and believe Abtahi’s account of what happened with the crew member to be true.
I got a nice sincere apology from @VirginAmerica. You are now permitted to calm down Internet.— Bobby Abtahi (@BobbyAbtahi) December 1, 2015
“As an airline that prides itself on our award-winning guest service, we take issues like this very seriously,” Virgin American spokesman David Arnold reportedly said. “We are sorry Mr. Abtahi had this experience today, as it was not representative of the guest service for which we are known.”
As compensation for his trouble, Abtahi was given a refund for his ticket and offered two free flights. Instead of accepting, he asked the airline to donate the flights to the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, an organization that helps refugees.
No problem! You guys do great work. https://t.co/h3MyVsJ67a— Bobby Abtahi (@BobbyAbtahi) December 1, 2015
Abtahi was reportedly asked by The New York Times if he thought he was racially profiled because of his Middle Eastern features but, in preserving his faith in humanity, he said he hoped he wasn’t.
Airline policies generally allow crew members discretion on who to allow on board, but as we can see ... the policy is flawed because of how subjective it is.
Even if the issue wasn't racially motivated, it's unfair that one woman gets riled up because Abtahi walked in front of her and she gets to decide he can't take his flight. Doesn't sound like a customer friendly situation at all.
Banner Photo Credit: Twitter @keranews