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Muslim woman sues Southwest for kicking her off San Diego-bound flight

Liz Goodwin
The Lookout

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Southwest planes (AP)

A Muslim psychology graduate student is suing Southwest Airlines for discrimination because Southwest employees kicked her off a flight in March after a stewardess misunderstood her phone conversation.

Irum Abbasi claims in the suit that the stewardess thought she said "It's a go," on her cell phone before hanging up for take-off. Abbasi actually said, "I've got to go" to a Verizon representative who was helping her activate her new smartphone.

Abbasi was wearing a headscarf and says she went through a second screening before boarding the flight to San Jose. Shortly before take-off, Transportation Security Authority agents came onboard and removed her from the plane.

They interviewed her and decided Abbasi was no threat. But she was told that she would have to wait for the next plane because the crew was "uncomfortable" flying with her. Abbasi says the delay meant she missed a scheduled research experiment for her studies, and many of her subjects had already left. You can read her complaint here, via CourthouseNews.

Southwest apologized at the time for the incident. "We do not discriminate against anyone for any reason, and we've been recognized as a leader for our diversity and care for all of our customers throughout our 40 years of service," the airline said in a statement.

The airline has often been accused of kicking passengers off flights for controversial reasons. The actor Kevin Smith started a Twitter storm when he revealed there that he had been asked to leave a flight for being too fat. Green Day lead singer Billy Joe Armstrong was told he had to leave because his pants were too saggy, while "The L Word" actress Leisha Hailey says she was booted from a flight for kissing her girlfriend.

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