A Muslim man is embroiled in a legal battle with Virgin Atlantic after claiming he was frogmarched off a plane for “harmlessly” mentioning 9/11.
Graduate Mohammad Khan, from Cricklewood, north London, says he was escorted off a flight to Atlanta by police after a “massive overreaction” by cabin crew who “racially and religiously profiled” him.
The 26-year-old, who was on the first leg of a journey to an interview for a business internship in Medellin, Colombia, said the action followed him talking to an air stewardess and another passenger while the plane was taxiing on the runway.
According to Mr Khan, a graduate in business and languages at Middlesex University, the passenger, who he had not met before, complained about the length of security checks in the airport.
Mohammad Khan claims he was thrown off a flight for mentioning 9/11 and is suing the airline for compensation
Mr Khan, said: “I totally innocently said ‘there’s been more security since 9/11’, then asked the stewardess “I bet your job has changed since 9/11”, but she looked stunned.”
He said the flight was immediately turned around on the runway and taxied back to the terminal where he was led off the plane by police.
A letter of claim from his solicitors states said he was not formally interviewed by police, who accepted what he said was a “misunderstanding” but Virgin refused to let him back on the flight, on January 8 last year.
He was denied a refund of his £560 ticket and spent £817 on alternative flights with a different airline to continue his journey.
He says he had been battling for compensation in the 18 months since.
His legal team recently submitted a final letter demanding £5,000, plus legal costs.
If the demand is not he has said he will sue for breach of contract and discrimination in the county court.
Mr Khan said: “I was racially and religiously profiled. It was a complete overreaction to completely innocent and harmless comments. I know this would not have happened if I was a white man in his 60s who had done the sam thing.”
“It totally ruined my trip and I felt humiliated. I was made to feel like a criminal. I’ve suffered from anxiety since because of how the incident made me feel and had to see a doctor about it.”
A spokesman for Virgin Atlantic said: “We can confirm that a customer was escorted from our flight VS103 on 8th Jan 2016 by the Police, for security reasons.
“Although any such event is rare, we always work closely with the authorities on all matters of security to ensure the safety and security of our aircraft, customers and crew.
“Our teams are in direct contact with Mr Khan and his lawyers, and we have offered to refund his Virgin Atlantic flights.”
Mr Khan is the latest passenger to complain of ill-treatment on aircraft due to “racist” security concerns.
YouTube star Adam Sales claimed in December last year he was removed from a Delta flight from Heathrow after other passengers complained when they heard him speaking in Arabic.
– Evening Standard