Northwest Apologizes, Vows to Reimburse Muslims Barred from Flight

January 19, 2007

Author: Gregg Krupa

Source: The Detroit News

DEARBORN -- Reacting swiftly to allegations of discrimination, Northwest Airlines apologized to a group of 40 Muslims today for barring them from a plane in Germany on their return trip from the Hajj. The airline said it will reimburse the pilgrims for the other flights they were forced to take on their return from the Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Moreover, a ranking official of the airline said the flight for which the passengers from Metro Detroit were ticketed could have been held at the gate until all were cleared for boarding, and she is looking into why that decision was not made.

Andrea Newman, the senior vice-president for government relations, said she will travel to Metro Detroit on Friday to discuss those issues and others with Imam Sayed Hassan al-Qazwini, the clergyman at the largest mosque in the country, the Islamic Center of America, and others who were affected by the snafu. Many of the pilgrims had to pay for hotel accommodations and some are still awaiting the delivery of their luggage, and Newman vowed that the airline would consider reimbursements for the accommodations and return the luggage.

The barring of residents of Metro Detroit from the fight, which upset many of the Muslims returning from the once-in-a-lifetime experience of making the Hajj, should not have occurred, Newman said. The situation, she said, resulted from a series of mistakes involving a German travel agency, the baggage handlers for the previous chartered flight from Saudi Arabia to Germany and misleading information on a printed ticket that the passengers had received, .