Two Muslim men have claimed their American Airlines flight was cancelled because flight crew "didn't feel comfortable" when they waved hello to each other.
Abderraoof Alkhawaldeh and Issam Abdallah say they were harassed by law-enforcement after boarding a flight from Birmingham, Alabama, to Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, on September 14th.
The two men, who knew each other from their local Muslim community, had travelled separately to the same event in Birmingham, and were on their way home.
After they boarded, the flight was initially delayed, followed by an announcement that the flight was cancelled.
Alkhawaldeh told the Dallas Morning News that he overheard a crew member say it was cancelled for security reasons.
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When the men got off the plane, law-enforcement officers were waiting for them.
They were then told that the flight was cancelled because the crew didn't feel comfortable flying with them.
Abdallah said he was told that the crew was also suspicious because he flushed the toilet twice while using the lavatory during the initial delay.
Abdallah added: “The flight attendant reported that he went to the restroom and flushed the toilet twice. The last time I know, flushing is allowed in this country.”
After they were questioned and had their bags re-searched, they were allowed to leave, but they claim police followed them as they went to a coffee shop together.
Alkhawaldeh and Abdallah said they were rebooked on a later flight, which included many of the same passengers.
The flight, AA 5886, was operated by Mesa Airlines, a regional carrier that operates some flights for American under the brand American Eagle.
In a statement provided to the Dallas Morning News, a spokesperson for the airline, LeKesha Brown, said that the flight was cancelled as a result of "concerns raised by a crew member and a passenger."
“American and all of its regional partners have an obligation to take safety and security concerns raised by crew members and passengers seriously.
“All customers on Flight 5886 were rebooked on the next flight to DFW. We're committed to providing a positive experience to everyone who travels with us. Our team is working with Mesa to review this incident.”