The Irfan family was removed from an Airtran flight heading to Orlando, Florida on Thursday. Why?
A. Airtran thought they looked more like train people;
B. They are Muslim;
C. Airtran thought the family could use some more exercise.
We all know the answer. We live in a time where many people would prefer to fly with snakes on their plane than with Muslims.
The question is whether Airtran acted reasonably. Lets take a quick look at the facts:
According to news reports, the Irfan family -- 8 people which included 3 children and in laws -- were boarding a flight in Washington DC bound for Orlando, Florida. I'm sure most of you were immediately suspicious when I mentioned they were headed to Orlando -- a known hot bed of US domestic terrorism. I don't know who Goofy thinks he is fooling -- but if he/she/it isn't Al Qaeda, my terrorist-adar is really broken.
In defense of Airtran -- they were told that one of the female family members was discussing which seat is safer -- the one near the wing or the engine. Clearly, an Al Qaeda operative planning on blowing up a plane would ask about which seat is safer to ensure that for the 30 or 40 minutes they are on the plane before they blow it up, they are safe. That one goes to Airtran.
Mr. Irfan asserts in his family's defense that no one in his party used words like "bomb," "explosion," or "terror." Well, this point doesn't help either side because in what context would a terrorist use those words while boarding a flight: "Will my bomb fit in the overhead compartment?" or "I hope I get my peanuts and soda before the explosion."
The Irfan family did commend the FBI agents who questioned them for being professional and for clearing them of any wrongdoing. But despite that, Airtran still won't let the family fly on their airline. Perhaps its because the flights are so packed during the current recession that they don't have seats available -- we will have to wait see on that one.
You will have to decide of Airtran acted reasonably based on these facts, but as an Arab-American comedian who flies a great deal for work, I want to offer my experience to other brown people in the hopes it helps you get on your flight. (One quick point -- if you are really an Al Qaeda operative reading this blog, please stop reading now because this isn't intended for you.)
Now, for the rest of us who aren't Al Qaeda -- and I promise that at least a few of us aren't -- here is my advice:
When going to the airport, no shirts with Arabic writing nor Arab scarves that are very fashionable and worn by so many young, hip people today. Those scarves may be cool for white people, but if we wear them at the airport, it means one thing: Orange alert.
So what should you wear? Remember this saying: "Dress white, make your flight. Dress Brown, never leave town." What does "dress white" mean? Two words: Banana Republic -- khaki pants and polo shirt with a little animal on it -- like a tiger, a horse or an alligator -- but not a camel -- I repeat, not a camel!
Also if you have a Middle Eastern accent and are answering questions by security, I'd recommend throwing in words from other languages so they have no idea where you are from. For example, if they ask where you are going, you respond: "Where are am I going, mon cheri? To see my Mamma Mia and have a fajita -- mazel tov!"
If you follow these simple rules -- in no time at all you should be reclining in your seat, enjoying your $2 water and your $8 snack pack as you and your luggage you paid an extra $15 to bring with you makes its way to your destination.
So back to the question: Did Airtran violate any rules or regulations -- Did they violate the Irfans' civil rights? I'm not sure, but all I can say to the Irfan family -- especially Mr. Irfan, who is a lawyer and says he is a proud American -- is that nothing says "I'm a real American" like a big fat lawsuit.