A Muslim family of 9 were kicked off an Air Trans flight because a suspicion was raised about terrorism. Apparently one of the family members noticed that his seat was next to one of the engines and he was discussing what was the safest seat on a plane in an accident.
I have an extreme fear of flying. In this case, I can sympathize both with the man who talked about the safest seat and with the passengers who reported him.
First I’ll discuss the man who talked about the safest seat. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been sitting in that plane seat and wondering to myself where is the best place to sit. My first choice is near the front. Second is in the emergency exit aisle. I want to be very close to a place where I can get out if I need to. I watch that safety intro by the flight attendants every time. Despite all of this, I still am scared during takeoff, landing and even just during the middle part of the flight. Don’t get me started on turbulence. The idea that this man caused suspicion for voicing the same concerns that many other people, like me, have voiced is sad.
Yet I can relate to the passengers who reported him. When you are afraid of flying, rational thought flies right out of the window. I was once on a plane when the captain came on the speaker and said “Welcome to the flight. My name is Captain Murphy and I’ll be your pilot today.” Immediately the thought flashed through my mind: “I hope he isn’t drunk.” It’s ridiculous isn’t it?
I have to admit, I’ve looked suspiciously more than once at Muslim passengers. I’ve wondered; I’ve feared. Even while my rational thought tells me that no terrorist dresses like a Muslim when on a terrorist mission. Terrorists want to blend in. Look at this picture of the terrorist at the Mumbai attacks.
More importantly, you might question why a person who is about to blow up a plane would bring their entire family with them. Kill yourself along with 9 members of your family? It’s unlikely. Nonetheless these irrational thoughts can take over when you are in the vulnerable and powerless position of being a passenger on a plane. But not all Muslims are terrorists. Not all Christians are terrorists. Not all anti-abortion activists are terrorists. Perhaps the passengers who reported the incident will learn from the mistake of letting their fears overcome rational thought.
If anyone is at fault for this it is the Air Trans employees who didn’t allow the family to book a flight once they had been cleared by the FBI. You would expect a company who is the business of flying to not be swayed by irrational fears.
Update: I forgot a very important detail in this post that I have just added above. It is irrational to believe that all people of a certain religion are terrorists. Terrorists are rare people if you think about it. There is no reason to equate a Muslim with terrorism.