U.S. Airways Pilot Refuses to Fly Plane With Sikhs Onboard

December 22, 2008

Author: Staff Writer

Source: India Post


In a disturbing incident reminiscent of widespread discrimination in 2001, three eminent Sikh classical religious musicians, Gulbag Singh, Davinder Singh, and Iqbal Singh were kicked off a U.S. Airways flight, and were told that the U.S. Airways pilot for the plane was refusing to fly with them on board.

The incident occurred after Gulbag, Davinder, and Iqbal Singh cleared Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security and boarded U.S. Airways flight No. 0493, on Nov 15, 2008, in Sacramento, California, on their way to Salt Lake City, Utah.

The three were sitting together in the rear of the plane, in their assigned seats. After having been on the plane for approximately 10 minutes, they were approached by one of the ticket-reception desk workers and asked to exit the plane. While none of the three adequately comprehend or speak English, the group complied and exited the aircraft.

When it became apparent that the group was unable to converse with U.S. Airways representatives, a Punjabi interpreter was called to assist. The Punjabi interpreter informed Iqbal Singh, on behalf of the U.S. Airways representatives, that the U.S. Airways pilot for the plane was refusing to fly if they were onboard the aircraft. When Iqbal Singh asked why, airline representatives were unable to give a clear answer, and the interpreter went on to persuade the three not to raise any objection because it could lead to more problems.

The group, having become concerned, fearful, and worried about what had happened, took the only option they were given, which was to stay the night in a hotel and depart on a Delta Airlines flight the following morning to Salt Lake City, Utah.