Another Man Who Looked “Arabic and Scary” Kicked Off a Flight. When Will This Stop?

A man was kicked off an Alaska Airlines flight from Dallas to Seattle on Wednesday because, the man says, “a passenger complained he looked ‘Arabic and scary'” as a result of his beard.

Oh, the man’s name is Mark French.

‘We want to assure you that ethnicity did not play a part in this situation.

‘The passenger was deemed unfit to fly at that time but was rebooked for a flight today to his destination.

Since the reference is to Wednesday evening I assume this was flight AS667, the 7:45pm departure that is Alaska’s last of the day.

According to Alaska Airlines he was ‘unfit to fly’ but he was fine to take a different flight. And we should trust them, it’s really all about something else entirely, but they won’t say what.

There is more to the story, but per our company policy we do not share details about our passengers.

Alaska needs to do better than that. If there were concerns about the passenger’s behavior, say so, and what those concerns were. Because I think we’ve had just about enough of people kicked off planes for doing math that ignorant seatmates think ‘looks like Arabic’ (we do use Arabic numerals, and ‘math is used to make bombs’). And we’ve had enough of Muslims kicked off flights for changing seats or for speaking Arabic.

As much of the coverage of this incident notes, the Alaska Airlines eskimo in their aircraft livery has a beard.

Regardless of what happened to this man when he tried to fly, it’s time we stop living in fear.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Not a beard, IMO. That’s just the fur around the parka hood. Throughout all the logo variants, still seems to be the furry edge. Interesting to see how he went from frowning to smiling over the years.

  2. Mr. French? Isn’t that the guy running as an Independent endorsed by Bill Krystal? People, especially Millennials, please shave your beards.

  3. The only way this is going to stop is if each one of us, one every single flight we fly, point to a fellow passenger (anyone with a beard or speaking a foreign language, or looking a bit odd) and tell a flight attendant that that person looks suspicious. If this happens every day, I think the airlines will approach this differently. There should be no knee jerk taking someone off a plane simply based on one passenger being suspicious, scared, ignorant.

  4. Even the most unobservant would have noted that beards are the ‘must have’ fashion accessory for the trendy 20s and 30s group, irrespective of whether it suits on not, all over the world. Unfortunately it coincides with the trend for the religiously inclined of the Muslim (and Jewish) faith to also wear one. So confusion reigns in the dimmer members of the community who have trouble sorting out who is what.
    Personally I know a beard would not suit me, and I would possibly be regarded as a street person rather than a terror suspect.
    So my American friends, of a swarthy complexion, I would recommend you forgo the beard, especially if you use any form of public transport, to avoid alarming the many Chicken Littles in your midst possibly interrupting your travel plans!

  5. I am still convinced the best solution is two types of flights…

    One for people who deal with TSA, 3d/see through security screenings and the possibility that a couple people will be kept from the flight for more investigation.

    Then other flights who don’t want to deal with any of this “nonsense”. No security, no screening, no ability to question other passengers.

    Would be interesting to see which flights are selected, especially by the group who can’t stop complaining about these “problems”.

  6. I doubt he was kicked off for looking Arabic. He wants to claim that, but what proof does he have? Plus he was flying to Seattle, everyone has beards there.

    Agree with Donald, the Alaska logo does not have a beard.

  7. I am still convinced the best solution is two types of flights-

    One for people who deal with TSA, 3d/see through security screenings and the possibility that a couple people will be kept from the flight for more investigation.

    Then other flights who don’t want to deal with any of this “nonsense”. No security, no screening, no ability to question other passengers.

    Would be interesting to see which flights are selected, especially by the group who can’t stop complaining about these “problems”.

  8. Truly unfortunate. I think most people simply have not had to socialize or even encounter Arabic individuals and believe what the fear mongering politicians say to get support. It is also very profitable for select large corporations to continue the culture of fear so they can protect us with new (if of questionable worth) security products. While I am in total agreement that there are those out there that would do us harm and I am happy to be protected from them, I have to say I see no benefit in fearing the Arabic stranger seated near me. Perhaps this is because I have traveled to Arabic countries and found the people quite hospitable. Further, I live in a city where I encounter people from many countries on a daily basis and I find them all equally non threatening on every encounter. I think the issue is that many people do not get out much and buy into the fear being sold on every corner. They don’t even seem to know what an Arab looks like fairly often.

    As for Alaska airlines, they should come clean about the “unfit to fly” claim. This make them look bad.

  9. Thank you Gary and Don in ATL. “it’s time we stop living in fear.”

    And for you Americans, please do not vote for the candidates, presidential and otherwise, who campaigns in fear-mongering and misinformation.

  10. OT, but when I lived in Youngstown OHio, radio station WHOT had a DJ named Mark French!

  11. When they stop killing people who do not agree with their religion. Wake up. Where have you been?

  12. Eventually, one of these individuals (probably with the help of the ACLU or some other group) will sue an airline for discrimination and win a ridiculously large multi-million dollar settlement. Once there’s an actual quantifiable cost to booting people off planes without merit, the airlines will finally change their policies.

    I think if someone complains about a suspicious passenger on their flight, BOTH of them should be removed. If you’re concerned enough to raise a fuss, you should be willing to miss your flight if you’re wrong.

  13. The guy was probably drunk. The airline says he was “unfit” to fly. For privacy reasons, they can’t say drunk.

  14. Well, it might end if the other events these past 15 years ends. Paris, Orlando, San Bernardino, Chattanooga, among other instances have many people spooked worldwide. Don’t forget this past week when authorities were emphasizing ‘if you see something, say something.’ Someone said something and the airline took the action they deemed necessary to protect other passengers and the aircraft. It is what it is. Unfortunately this is now part of our globalized world.

  15. A couple of years ago, a white young man right in front of me wore a beard was completely blasted, and the FA still sold him liquior. He mumbled to himself for hours and spilled smelly liquor ask overt the floor. Lucky I noticed and took my personal item off the floor in time before it got soaked. Now, of that man looked Middle Eastern, would he had been unfit to fly?

  16. Political correctness my ass, Almost all terrorists are Muslims, that is the truth. The good Muslims should do some thing to change their image, rather than being defensive aggressively.

  17. I think people will stop living in fear when people feel we have an administration that is protecting us

  18. @Phoenix opines:

    “And for you Americans, please do not vote for the candidates, presidential and otherwise, who campaigns in fear-mongering and misinformation.”

    Perfect! There’s no one to vote for so we can cancel ALL elections!

    ALL candidates pander to fear. ALL candidates trade in misinformation.

    It gets them elected by the sheeple…

  19. With politicians that engage in fear mongering this is no surprise. People are basically sheep. That being said if a passenger is not comfortable with someone else being on the plane I think that the answer is that the complaining passenger should be removed from the plane, unless the passenger they are complaining about is an actual threat. I’m tired of all the bigots (both passengers and FAs) who are soo ignorant that they think anyone who looks like a muslim is automatically a threat. Maybe there is more to this store but if so then Alaska Airlines really dropped the ball by not giving additional details. There are interviews with this guy saying he was denied boarding until he shaved his beard. They literally told this guy he can’t board until he shaved his beard. Anyone who thinks this type of behavior by an airline is appropriate really needs to have their head examined.

  20. If a person has been cleared by TSA and their x-ray machines + patdowns , he/she should be allowed to fly. Too many times “looking suspicious” cop-out argument has been used by bigots and racist.

  21. My wife flew last night and somebody asked her if she was Arabic. She’s from Spain/UK and does not wear a hijab.

  22. @ff_lover, you are far more judicious in your word choice than I would have been. Mine would have been a bit more direct.

    these bigots need to get their garbage shoved right back in their faces, down their throat and leave it in there.

  23. @Bostonwalker, In the US the overwhelming majority of terrorists have been Christian. Yet there have been no calls to denounce radical Christianity.

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