United Airlines says the flight attendant who allegedly denied a Muslim woman an unopened can of soda will no longer serve customers on their planes.
Tahera Ahmad, director of interfaith engagement and associate chaplain at Northwestern University, penned a troubling Facebook post last weekend in which she said a flight attendant refused to provide her with an unopened can of Diet Coke because she might “use it as a weapon.”
“After investigating this matter, United has ensured that the flight attendant, a Shuttle America employee, will no longer serve United customers,” Charles Hobart, a spokesman for United, told The Huffington Post in an emailed statement. “While United did not operate the flight, Ms. Ahmad was our customer and we apologize to her for what occurred on the flight.”
The ordeal — which Ahmad said left her in tears after a fellow passenger told her to “shut the f**k up” — began a firestorm of media coverage. The hashtags #UnitedForTahera and #IslamophobiaISREAL quickly spread across social media with many calling for a boycott of the airline.
Ahmad said she was initially “truly disappointed” with United and that the airline was dismissive of her claims, boiling them down to a misunderstanding rather than an act of discrimination.
“This isn’t about me and a soda can,” she told The Guardian. “It’s about systemic injustice that is perpetuated throughout our community.”
Ahmad did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
The crew member in question is an employee of Shuttle America, a division of Republic Airways that contracts with airlines like United Express and Delta. While Hobart said the flight attendant would no longer fly with United, it’s unclear if she’s been fired.
“United does not tolerate behavior that is discriminatory — or that appears to be discriminatory — against our customers or employees,” Hobart said.
A representative for Republic Airways said the company couldn’t comment on individual personnel matters, but that it regretted “the poor judgement and lack of sensitivity demonstrated by one of our flight attendants during a recent interaction with Ms. Ahmad.”
“As a result of this event, we have conducted an initial internal investigation and we are confident that this is an isolated incident,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “We are in the process of reaching out to Ms. Ahmad to provide a formal apology.”