United Airline Crew Told Woman They Feared She Had Swine Flu
UPDATED: 1:30 am HST November 10, 2009
HONOLULU -- A Hawaii woman was kicked off a United Airlines plane bound for Honolulu Monday when the flight crew accused her of having swine flu.
Mitra Mostoufi and daughter Pagie told Honolulu news station KITV the ordeal started aboard their plane in Tampa, Fla.
Their plane was about to depart when Mitra -- who said she had an upset stomach -- returned from the airplane restroom. She said the flight crew was more than terse.
"'Get your stuff and let's go. Get your belongings.' And I said, 'Why?' 'Because you're sick.' Right in front of everybody. And I said, 'I'm not sick and I'm not going to argue with anybody at that point,'" said Mostoufi.
Mostoufi said she and her daughter left the plane embarrassed and humiliated.
Mitra Mostoufi said asked another employee for further explanation and learned the crew believed she had the swine flu.
"'The crew does not feel good about you flying because you might be sick.' I didn't know they were all physicians," said Mitra Mostoufi.
She said she had had flu shot and no one ever took her temperature. The pair missed United's only flight of the day from Tampa to Hawaii.
Her husband said he learned of their plight a short time later.
"I couldn't believe it, first time I heard that from her," said Bob Mostoufi. "I think this is discrimination for anybody who's sick."
But the Mostoufis said they agree in this age of the swine flu there must be a balance in protecting public health and respecting individual rights.
"I appreciate their concern for other customers and guests. I don't have any problem with that. The only problem I have is the way they handled the situation," Mitra Mostoufi said. "We are human beings. Maybe I sneeze. It doesn't mean I have the flu. You cannot assume that and get me out of the airplane."
United Airlines' policy allows the crew to determine if someone who appears visibly ill should be allowed to fly.