Tahera Ahmad, a chaplain at Chicago’s Northwestern University, says she asked for the unopened can of Diet Coke due to hygienic concerns. According to a Facebook post she made while on board, the attendant told her, “Well, I’m sorry. I just can’t give you an unopened can, so no Diet Coke for you… “We are unauthorized to give unopened cans to people, because they may use it as a weapon on the plane.”
She also claims that a man sitting next to her was served an unopened can of beer. In protest, Ahmad said she grabbed the man’s can, opened it, and said, “It’s so you don’t use it as a weapon.”
Ahmad said she then sought support from her fellow passengers asking them if they witnessed the alleged discrimination, but got no support. She claimed one man across the aisle said, “You Moslem, you need to shut the F** up,” [y]es you know you would use it as a weapon, so shut the F** up.”
Ahmad’s post prompted several responses from people saying they would boycott United Airlines.
Charles Hobart, a spokesperson for United Airlines, said he was reaching Ahmad to gain a “better understanding of what occurred during the flight.”
He also said United Airlines was examining the incident with Shuttle America, its regional partner which operated the flight.
Republic Airways, which owns Shuttle America, did not respond to The Guardian’s request for comment regarding its beverage policy.
Ahmad said she received an apology from the flight attendant who said he admitted his move was unethical and said he never should have said anything.