An 18-month-old girl was removed from a New Jersey-bound JetBlue flight Tuesday, after officials believed her name was on the U.S. no-fly list, prompting outrage from her parents and one of our favorite recent New York Post covers.
According to the Associated Press, an airline employee boarded the plane before it left Fort Lauderdale, Fla., informed the family of the toddler’s apparent status on the federal list. On Thursday, JetBlue claimed a computer glitch had mistakenly caused the alert. In a statement, the company said:
“We are investigating this particular incident. We believe this was a computer glitch. Our crewmembers followed the appropriate protocols, and we apologize to the family involved in this unfortunate circumstance.”
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration says the girl, named Riyanna, was never flagged by the agency.
In an interview with a local ABC affiliate, the girl’s parents said they believed they were being profiled because they’re of Middle Eastern descent, although they were born and raised in New Jersey. They requested that they not be identified.
“We were put on display like a circus act because my wife wears a hijab,” the father told the station, WPBF. He doubted JetBlue’s “computer glitch” explanation, having worked for years as a computer engineer.
The family decided not to reboard the plane, saying they were too embarrassed.
“The whole situation was bizarre. It was completely bizarre and absolutely made no sense,” Riyanna’s mother said. Her father shared a similar sentiment. “It’s absurd,” he said. “Why would an 18-month-old child be on a no-fly list?”