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Delta fined over Muslim passenger row

The Transportation Department fined Delta for how it treated a Muslim passenger

Delta Air Lines jets at Salt Lake City International Airport. Delta is one of several airlines raising its domestic fares.
Delta Air Lines jets at Salt Lake City International Airport.
Associated Press

The federal U.S. Department of Transportation has fined Delta Air Lines $50,000 after it reportedly discriminated against three Muslim passengers who had been cleared to board but were stopped from flying, The New York Times reports.

What happened: Delta stopped three Muslim passengers in two separate incidents from flying on flights from Paris to Cincinnati and from Amsterdam to New York.

  • According to Mic, the first incident occurred when a married Muslim couple wanted to travel from Paris to Cincinnati. The wife wore a hijab. A passenger told a flight attendant the couple made her feel “uncomfortable.” She said the couple was “fidgety, nervous and sweating.” The husband reportedly put “something plastic into his watch.” The husband reportedly used the word “Allah” a lot.
  • The second incident included a Muslim man on a flight from Amsterdam to New York. Passengers told Delta that the man made “significant eye contact” with passengers and received a package from someone else, according to Mic.
  • Security approved the passengers to board. But the captain of the flight stopped the passengers from boarding, which overruled security officials.
  • The security officials said the passengers went through background checks before being allowed to board.
  • The passengers filed a claim against Delta.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Delta failed to agree with security procedures and that the ban showed discrimination based on religion.

Reaction: Delta spokeswoman Lisa Hellerstedt told The New York Times that the airline doesn’t have any room for discrimination. However, it accepted the decision.

  • Hellerstedt: “While we understand that our best customer service was not reflected in how the incident was handled, we disagree with the Department of Transportation’s contention that Delta engaged in discriminatory conduct. For that reason, we have worked to improve our investigative process since these incidents and we have supporting programs, policies, training and procedures that back up our commitments in this area.”