It is reported that on August 12, Raed Jarrar was about to board a Jetblue flight from New York’s JFK Airport to Oakland, CA. Allegedly, four officials, either from the airline or security stopped him and informed him he could not board with the shirt on. One apparently told him, “Going to an airport with a T-shirt in Arabic script is like going to a bank and wearing a t-shirt that says: I’m a robber.”
The shirt in question read: “We will not be silent.” in English and Arabic. He initially refused their request for him to turn his shirt inside-out, but ultimately agreed to cover it in order to board. He was also forced to give up his seat in the front of the aircraft and was relocated to the rear.
Two years later, Mr. Jarrar settled out of court, the Washington Post reports, with JetBlue for $240,000, although the airline denies they did anything wrong, and the TSA, not named in the suit, denies they did any sort of profiling. It is one of the largest settlements of its kind since the September 11th attacks. Such cases are rare and six-figure settlements or court victories even rarer,”because airline pilots have wide discretion to decide who flies aboard their aircraft and it is difficult to prove that passengers should be awarded damages when airlines have offered them other flights.”
Representatives of JetBlue and a supervisory inspector at Kennedy airport denied wrongdoing and said the case was settled to limit legal costs. “JetBlue continues to deny, outright, every critical aspect of Mr. Jarrar’s version of events,” airline spokeswoman Alison Croyle said.
As for the TSA, out of 1,022 complaints against airlines filed with the Transportation Department since 2001, the agency has taken four administrative enforcement actions. They were limited to carriers, who acknowledged no wrongdoing, pledging to spend several million dollars in retraining efforts. The TSA itself has received about 1,080 civil rights complaints about its personnel since 2001, White said, but declined to specify how many of the complaints had led to sanctions.
Are you offended by this statement on a shirt? Do you think Mr. Jarrar should have been asked to remove his shirt and hide in the back of the plane? How far should we go? Send us a comment, or try out our new Twitter account at Flightwisdom.