When Skin Color Decides What Flight You Will Be Put On
An American Muslim couple from Fairfax Virginia said a racist agent for Aeroloft airline forced them to fly back to India by threatening them with deportation. It happened as last weekend’s blizzard in New York caused delays in air traffic all over the world.
Shohana Islam and Marc Fernandes are from Fairfax Virginia and were on a trip to India with friends and family.
In posts on facebook, they explain what happened:
“This video was taken last night by my sister at the Moscow international airport. After taking a 6 hour flight to Moscow from Delhi and waiting over 12 hours at the Moscow airport my family and I were forced to get on to a flight back to Delhi because we were not allowed to stay at the Moscow airport for over 24 hours. We understand that flights get delayed because of weather conditions but we do not understand how people with different backgrounds, skin tones, names, get to board on to the next available flight or wait it out in the airport until there was a flight.”
Marc wrote “Absolutely outraged at Aeroflot Airlines and their employees on how they were treating so many people at the airport yesterday. White guy and brown guy (me) stand side by side, both went for a vacation to India and travel to Moscow for lay over, both have American Passports, both are American Citizens, both have Indian visa. BUT…… white guy is sent to the lounge [to wait for next flight to the US], my family sent back to India. No concern/empathy, no accommodations provided, being extremely rude to customers and no organization or transparency.”
In the video, the airline agent is heard telling them, “All citizens of the country that need visas in our country after 24 hours will be deported.”
Shohana told WUSA news 9 “We even said, you don’t have to give us a hotel, we have lounge access like we’ll literally go stay in a lounge and sleep in sofas and chairs. Book us on the next flight to anywhere in the U.S., to London, Paris, any major hub”.
But the agent insisted on putting them on a flight back to India. “He was this close to my face, yelling at me, telling me he was going to cause so many problems for me,” said Shohana. “We were like threatened; if you don’t get on this flight, you will face deportation, if you don’t get on this flight, we will make your life worse for you. Basically, if you don’t get on this flight, we will make your life a living hell”
The discrimination was so obvious says Marc, white passengers were given preferential treatment “They didn’t face deportation. They weren’t given visas. They were taken to a lounge, and they were told, ‘Hey, go to the lounge, we’ll take your info, and I’m going to give you a call when a flight is available. Because we looked Indian, everyone was made to go back to India”
Back in India Aeroflot told them it couldn’t fly them home until January 15, so they’re flying home in two days on Qatar Airways instead.