Northwest Plans to Pay Muslims Kept Off Flight

January 18, 2007

Author: Niraj Warikoo

Source: Detroit Free Press

Northwest Airlines apologized Wednesday to an Islamic group representing about 40 Muslims who were denied entry to a plane, and said it would reimburse the passengers.

But Northwest maintains that it did nothing improper Jan. 7 when it prevented the group from boarding a connecting flight to Detroit in Germany. It said that the mix-up could have happened because the group was flying in on a charter carrier that did not have an agreement with Northwest.

Members of the group, mostly Lebanese-American Shi'ites from metro Detroit, had to pay about $150 each in penalty fees in order to catch other flights back home. The group was returning from a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. Most returned home a day late.

Northwest spokesman Dean Breest said that the company will reimburse the extra costs and that a senior vice president, Andrea Newman, will meet with officials from the Council on American-Islamic Relations today to discuss the incident.

"We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience," Breest said, but added that "Northwest did not do anything wrong."

The council held a news conference Tuesday at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, at which some of the travelers said they were denied entry to the plane because they were Muslim.