Under global scrutiny for seemingly unending incompetence, United Airlines has been under fire from all sides, and with good reason. The embattled passenger airline suffered a major PR disaster after booting some teenage girls off a flight for wearing yoga pants — both sexualizing and humiliating some kids too young to even drive. That apparently didn’t outrage America enough, so United stood by while law enforcement forcibly dragged an elderly doctor from his seat and off another plane headed from Chicago to Louisville, where patients were waiting for him. And in what they thought must be the end of a horrible month-long calamity of errors, yet another passenger’s indignity surfaced on social media: A man was stung by a scorpion while eating his in-flight meal.
Unfortunately for United, it doesn’t end with their stock tanking and everyone moving on.
In an article for the Huffington Post penned by Maura Furfey, a Spanish teacher in the Bronx, she details the ultimate nightmare for every biracial couple. Imagine if someone accused you of kidnapping your own child. Now imagine your skin is a different color than your child’s. That’s exactly what happened to Ms. Furfey’s husband on a United flight back from Mexico last week.
Ms. Furfey is Irish and her husband is Mexican. In the Trump era, that alone is enough to win you the suspicion of the racists who came out of the woodwork to carry Trump to victory in the election. But one drunken passenger took it further. She befriended Furfey’s daughter and husband on the flight, and despite some odd behavior the father noticed, seemed perfectly normal. Just another passenger sitting next to them on their way back from visiting family in Cancún. But when the man — who was carrying a green card, passports with matching names for himself and his 3 year-old daughter, and even a notarized letter from the girl’s mother — tried to leave the flight with his daughter, he was detained by agents from both Port Authority and Border Patrol.
That a woman can get drunk and forget that people have children all the time who don’t look exactly like them is one thing. But for the United attendants to take this clearly intoxicated passenger at her word that the child was a kidnapping victim, despite a total lack of any kind of evidence, shows a need for a complete overhaul of United protocols.
Thankfully, the situation did not escalate for Ms. Furfey and her family. CBP and Port Authority called her as she was on her way to the airport to get them. After the initial shock of getting the phone call in the first place, Maura “corroborated” her husband’s story and her family was released. As we all know, it could have ended much worse for them.
Still, they were subjected to clear racial profiling and the mortification that somehow their child might be taken from them. That ignominy seems worth much more than the $100 travel voucher they were offered by the airline.
They won’t be using it.
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