Professional boxer Amir Khan said he and a colleague were removed last week from an American Airlines flight in the U.S. for “racially motivated” reasons.
Khan’s claims: The 34-year-old British boxer and his companion were removed from Flight 700 at Newark Liberty International Airport en route to Dallas-Fort Worth on Sept. 18 while on the way to a training camp in Colorado, reported The Guardian.
- Khan, who was born in Bolton to Pakistani parents, told Sky News that it was embarrassing for “two Asian boys that sat in the front” to be “picked on” as it was “a week after 9/11.”
- “We felt like criminals. We felt like we had done something wrong, the way we were dragged out the plane,” he said.
- The former unified light-welterweight world champion added that while he hopes he’s wrong in his assumptions, he maintained that he “had done nothing wrong. I got kicked off a plane for no reason.”
- When asked if he believed he was deplaned due to his skin color, Khan responded with, “I’m not saying that but I think it might have something to do with that.”
AA’s response: American Airlines stated that Khan and his companion were removed from the plane after they allegedly refused to comply with requests made by airline staff, reported USA Today.
- The airline said in a statement: “Prior to takeoff on Sept. 18, American Airlines Flight 700, with service from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), returned to the gate to deplane two customers who reportedly refused to comply with repeated crew member requests to stow luggage, place cell phones in airplane mode and adhere to federal face-covering requirements.”
- Khan denied the airline’s claims, saying he immediately turned his phone off when he was asked by a flight attendant. He said his colleague also complied after being told to pull his mask above his nose after it had slipped down while drinking.
- According to Khan, a crew member asked him and his companion to leave as three police officers boarded the plane to remove them. The officers later requested to take photos with Khan after recognizing him.
- While Khan believed that American Airlines banned him from all flights operated by its parent company Oneworld, the airline clarified that he is not.
- American Airlines, which said it conducted an investigation into the incident, also denied that police removed the pair.
- “Per protocol, police were present when the aircraft returned to the gate, but were not involved in asking either passenger to deplane and did not intervene at any point,’’ the airline said in a statement.
Two days later, Khan reached Colorado Springs to start his “pre-training’’ preparation for a fight that will occur next year against a still undetermined opponent.