18-month-old baby pulled from flight, parents interviewed by TSA

May 10, 2012

18-month-old Riyanna was pulled from a JetBlue flight (Image credit: WPBF.com)The parents of an 18-month-old girl say they were “humiliated” after being pulled off a plane and told their young child had been placed on a no-fly list.

After boarding a JetBlue flight in Ft. Lauderdale, the parents of young Riyanna, who asked to remain anonymous over fears of repercussions, were told the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) wanted to interview their toddler.

“And I said, ‘For what?’” Riyanna’s mother told ABC affiliate WPBF 25 News on Wednesday. “And he said, ‘Well, it’s not you or your husband. Your daughter was flagged as no fly.’ I said, ‘Excuse me?’”

Whoever is to blame, the parents say they believe the incident began because they are both of Middle Eastern descent and because the wife wears a hijab, a traditional headscarf. A 2011 poll from the Pew Research Center found that Muslim Americans say they believe they disproportionately singled out by airport security officers.

Eventually, the couple were given their boarding passes back. Interesting, both JetBlue and the TSA tell WPBF they weren’t responsible for the incident. The TSA says that because the couple and their child were eventually issued boarding passes, then Riyanna could not have been on the no-fly list.

“TSA did not flag this child as being on the No Fly list,” the group said in a statement to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “TSA was called to the gate by the airline and after talking to the parents and confirming through our vetting system, TSA determined the airline had mistakenly indicated the child was on a government watch list.”

JetBlue told WPBF that both they and the TSA are investigating the incident.

“We were humiliated. We were embarrassed. We were picked on,” Riyanna’s father told the station.

The family decided to leave the airport rather than return to the flight.

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