18-month-old baby yanked from airplane for being on no-fly list
The 18-month old daughter of two New Jersey-born Americans of Middle Eastern descent was reportedly the reason for sending Transportation Security Administration agents onto an about-to-depart plane in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida this week. The parents of the girl, who wish to remain anonymous, say the entire incident is absurd.
Riyanna’s mother tells Fort Lauderdale’s WPBF 25 News that she was approached by an airline employee late Tuesday while onboard a JetBlue plane readying for departure. According to her, she was informed that TSA agents were waiting to speak with the family back inside the terminal.
"And I said, 'For what?'" Riyanna's mother tells the network. "And he said, 'Well, it's not you or your husband. Your daughter was flagged as no fly.’”
“I said, 'Excuse me?'" the mother recalls.
The family then exited the plan to answer questions from the TSA. They don’t quite buy the story that it was their daughter that demanded an investigation, though.
"It's absurd," Riyanna’s father adds. "It made no sense. Why would an 18-month-old child be on a no-fly list?"
The parents say that, for 30 minutes, they stood around a terminal at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport while there flight was halted.
"We were put on display like a circus act because my wife wears a hijab," claims the father.
"We were humiliated," he says. "We were embarrassed. We were picked on."
Eventually the family was cleared to once more board the aircraft, but the child’s parents say they were too embarrassed to seat themselves again amid the chaos. In the aftermath, they have asked the TSA for an apology — they have yet to receive one.
What has materialized, however, is a statement from the TSA that has the agency adjusting the blame towards JetBlue, not the federal security screeners.
“TSA did not flag this child as being on the No Fly list,” the agency says in a statement released to the Huffington Post. “TSA was called to the gate by the airline and after talking to the parents and confirming through our vetting system, TSA determined the airline had mistakenly indicated the child was on a government watch list."
When questioned by WPBF, JetBlue said the incident was an issue for the TSA; the TSA told the network that it was an issue with the airline and would not be investigating it.
Riyanna’s father says he intends to consult with an attorney.