A self-proclaimed Muslim activist has been arrested after refusing to get off an American Airlines flight at Newark International Airport (EWR) following a complaint from a First Class passenger. Amani Al-Khatahtbeh was whisked into custody by Port Authority police after first refusing to get off the aircraft at the request of an American Airlines manager and then insisting the other passenger also be removed when police arrived.
Al-Khatahtbeh took to Twitter on Saturday to tell her followers about an argument she got into with a fellow passenger while passing through a TSA security checkpoint. What she didn’t know at the time was that the passenger was going to be on her American Airlines flights to Charlotte.
“I had the craziest experience in TSA this morning,” Al-Khatahtbeh told her 29,000 followers. “An entitled white man behind me insisted on cutting me in line because I was ‘still taking my shoes off.’ When I said he could wait like everyone else, he started going off about how he’s ‘pre check’ and ‘first class’,” her initial Tweet continued.
“He then proceeded to not only shove his things before mine, but then RUN THROUGH THE MACHINE and TSA did NOTHING! Not only did they not do anything, a TSA officer had the audacity to tell ME to ‘cut it out’,” Al-Khatahtbeh explained.
“Y’all know if I, a VEILED MUSLIM WOMAN, had the audacity to throw a temper tantrum and run through TSA security, I would have gotten BODIED. I would have been detained, missed my flight, possibly gotten charged, etc.”
But while Al-Khatahtbeh perhaps thought the incident would finish there, she soon posted an update saying American Airlines was attempting to remove her from the flight following a complaint from the same passenger.
Al-Khatahtbeh has posted a video of an AA manager telling her that the other passenger “didn’t feel comfortable” with her onboard. American Airlines sources, however, claim Al-Khatahtbeh confronted the man in his seat which in turn prompted him to make a complaint to flight attendants.
In the end, police were called after Al-Khatahtbeh refused to budge. A passenger sat behind her took a video of what happened next, with Al-Khatahtbeh insisting the other passenger also be removed from the flight because she too didn’t feel comfortable with him being on the flight.
Al-Khatahtbeh pointed out that it appeared both American Airlines and the police were seemingly taking the other passenger’s word above hers and that they should both be taken off the plane so the facts of the incident could be worked through. She mused whether the other passenger’s status as a First Class customer was a factor in the decision-making process of the police.
American Airlines has been contacted for comment.
To make matters worse, it has since been alleged that Port Authority police left Al-Khatahtbeh handcuffed in her cell because she refused to remove her hijab during processing. Only after an intervention from her attorney did police eventually agree to remove the handcuffs.
According to Al-Khatahtbeh’s website, she remains in custody. It’s not clear whether she has been charged with any crime.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently used by some of the biggest names in journalism.