A Delta Air Lines passenger claims he was yelled at by a flight attendant and grilled by law enforcement after he fell asleep on a recent flight.
Yes, you read that correctly: The New York Daily News reports that the 30-year-old Moroccan-born man was flying from North Carolina to New York on May 8 with his fiancée on a flight operated by ExpressJet.
He says a flight attendant had spotted him yawning, and approached him, asking if everything was okay. He told her he was fine, that he was just tired. Soon after, he says he was about to nod off when the attendant yelled at him and told him he should move to a seat in an empty row across the aisle.
He said he’d rather stay in his seat, next to his fiancée, and remained where he was. When he got off the plane, he claims he was interrogated for almost 40 minutes by police at LaGuardia Airport.
“All this interrogation, all these questions,” he told the NYDN. “Then the police officer realized that this is nothing more than just discrimination against color and race.”
Delta said in a statement that its crew decided to contact law enforcement officials “based on their observance of concerning behaviors by the passenger toward his seat companion, including physical actions and verbal tones.”
But his fiancée says he was behaving normally during the flight.
“It was embarrassing to be in that situation and for doing what? Yawning and sleeping on the airplane or just for being a Muslim?” she told the NYDN.
ExpressJet operated the flight, saying in a statement that “The circumstances surrounding this event are still under investigation.”
“At ExpressJet, we train our crews to use their professional experience and practice best judgment to ensure the safety of all of our customers,” the airline said. “While we regret the inconvenience caused to the passengers, the safety and security of everyone on board is our top priority and cannot be compromised.”
The man’s lawyer says he’ll be taking action against the airline, because he doesn’t want the same thing to happen to others. He says his client also wants Delta to investigate the situation, saying it was “disgraceful” that the couple had to go through such an ordeal.