A Sikh man along with his four friends were kicked out from an American Airlines flight allegedly because their appearance made the captain uneasy, claims a $9 million lawsuit against the airline.
Shan Anand, a Sikh, along with three other friends, were ordered off the Toronto -New York flight from last month based upon their perceived race, colour and ethnicity, according to a CNN report.
Mr Anand's other friends - a Bangladeshi Muslim and an Arab Muslim - were identified only by their initials WH and MK.
Mr Anand and his friend Faimul Alam switched seats with strangers after boarding, so they could sit next to WH and MK.
Several minutes later, a white woman flight attendant asked WH to get off the plane, according to the lawsuit, which was filed yesterday in Brooklyn Federal Court.
When they asked the flight crew why they were being removed, the flight attendant told them to exit "peacefully" and "demanded" they return to the gate and await further directions, the lawsuit said.
"It basically made me feel like a criminal," WH said, adding: "It was like I was put on a pedestal where everyone is pointing at you. I was frightened that they were frightened."
It was only after the plane took off that an airline agent told the men "they could not board because the crew members, and specifically the captain, felt uneasy and uncomfortable with their presence on the flight and as such, refused to fly unless they were removed from the flight," the report said.
The flight took off, leaving the four men behind. "They said it was protocol," Mr Anand said.