An Iranian-American lawyer was reportedly barred from boarding a flight at LaGuardia Airport on Monday due to what has been described as “an encounter with a crew member."
Robert B. Abtahi told The New York Times “the reason he was given was that the captain and crew did not feel comfortable with him on the flight. When he pressed for specifics, a gate agent told him that he had cut off a crew member in a revolving door while arriving at the airport, he said. He was forced to cancel the ticket and rebook on another airline.”
Abtahi tweeted out the incident, which he hoped was some kind of Ashton Kutcher prank, and the story quickly garnered attention.
According to the Times, the incident specifically happened when a woman got behind him in the same stall of the revolving doors. Responding to a reporter, Abtahi wrote on Twitter that they “both fumbled to get in,” and he "didn’t know she was crew."
When asked by the Times whether he thought his removal was based off his appearance, he said he hoped that wasn’t the case.
Virgin America has since apologized to Abtahi, refunded his flight and offered him two complimentary flights in the future. Abtahi turned them down and instead asked that Virgin provide the flights to a nonprofit in Texas that helps Syrian refugees.
Matt Lee is a Web producer for Metro New York. He writes about almost everything and anything. Talk to him (or yell at him) on Twitter so he doesn’t feel lonely @mattlee2669.