American Airlines canceled a flight after flight attendants alleged cited security issues concerning two Muslim men on a flight from Birmingham, Alabama, to Dallas-Fort Worth, CNN reported.
Now the men are speaking out about the reported experience.
What are the details?
Businessman Abderraoof Alkhawaldeh said that he and his traveling companion, Issam Abdallah, boarded the flight in Birmingham on Saturday when Abdallah found that he had to use the on-board restroom. Abdallah noted that there had been several reported maintenance-related delays that occurred before he opted to use the facilities.
Abdallah said that he entered the restroom and had to flush the toilet twice, which apparently caused concern. He said he exited the restroom to find what appeared to be a flight attendant eavesdropping right outside the lavatory door.
About 10 minutes later, the airline removed everyone from the plane. Abdallah said that he and Alkhawaldeh went to an airport coffee shop to wait for more information. That's when police officers — who were reportedly watching the two men — approached them.
Abdallah said that an FBI agent also approached him to ask the pair questions about the flight and that his and his companion's luggage was screened a second time by TSA personnel. The agent reportedly told Abdallah that the flight crew phoned authorities to report suspicious behavior after he flushed the toilet on the aircraft twice.
Abdallah added, "You feel like you are a criminal in front of them. I felt like I am discriminated against my ethnicity, my religion."
The airline rebooked all passengers — including the two men — on the next flight to Dallas.
Having trouble sleeping
"It was the most horrible, humiliating day of my life," Abdallah told reporters at a CAIR press event Thursday.
Alkhawaldeh added, "This is absurd, unacceptable, and un-American. Those who are responsible must be held accountable."
He also pointed out that he's had trouble sleeping since the incident.
"I travel for a living," he said. "I'm really worried what is my next flight experience. This put a lot of stress on me and my family.
"I have taken hundreds of flights, I have flown over 1,000,000 miles with American. I have the highest elite status-executive platinum," Alkhawaldeh insisted. "And to be treated with disrespect, and suspicion, to be racially profiled, to be followed by law enforcement officers for hours in front of hundreds of passengers, to be questioned in public."
American Airlines is looking into the incident
In a statement, the airline said that it is investigating the incident.
The statement read:
American Airlines Flight 5886, operated by Mesa Airlines, from Birmingham to Dallas-Fort Worth on Sept. 14 was canceled due to concerns raised by a crew member and a passenger. American and all of its regional partners have an obligation to take safety and security concerns raised by crew members and passengers seriously. All customers on Flight 5886 were rebooked on the next flight to DFW. We're committed to providing a positive experience to everyone who travels with us. Our team is working with Mesa to review this incident, and we have reached out to Mr. Alkhawaldeh and Mr. Abdallah to better understand their experience.