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Amir Khan claims his removal from US plane was racially motivated

Written by on 27/09/2021

British boxer Amir Khan has told Sky News he believes he was escorted off a plane in the United States possibly due to the colour of his skin.

The 34-year-old said he was given a police escort off the plane and “banned” from travelling by American Airlines while trying to fly to a training camp in Colorado from New York on 18 September.

He spoke out on social media about his ordeal and said he was “disgusted” by his treatment, saying there was no reason for him to be removed.

He said a colleague was also forced off the flight, with staff complaining his face mask “was not high enough”.

American Airlines crew members reported the pair for allegedly failing to stow luggage, not putting their phones on airplane mode, and not complying with federal rules on face masks.

Amir Khan. File pic
Image: ‘Maybe the air stewardess and the staff didn’t feel comfortable me being there sat at the front,’ says Khan

The airline says Khan and his colleague “reportedly refused to comply with repeated crew member requests”.

Speaking to Kay Burley on Monday, the sports star said the colour of his skin and the flight being a week after the anniversary of 9/11 “might have had something to do with” how he was treated.

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“I just feel like I was treated really badly, it was a week after 9/11 and I do feel like things were a little bit tense but to be picked on, two Asian boys who are sat at the front, being pulled out of in front a full plane, it’s quite embarrassing really”, he said.

When asked if he was saying he was removed from the plane because of the colour of his skin and the fact that it was a week after the anniversary of 9/11, the boxer said: “I’m not saying that, but I think it might have something to do with that.

“Maybe the air stewardess and the staff didn’t feel comfortable me being there sat at the front.”

He was asked if he thought his removal was racially motivated, to which he said: “Definitely, and I stand by that”.

A spokesperson for American Airlines said: “Prior to take off on September 18, American Airlines Flight 700, with service from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), returned to the gate to deplane two customers who reportedly refused to comply with repeated crew member requests.

“To stow luggage, place cell phones in aeroplane mode and adhere to federal face-covering requirements.

“Our customer relations team has reached out to Mr Khan to learn more about his experience.”

Mr Khan said he spoke to the carrier once he arrived in Colorado but claims he was already banned from any American Airlines flight.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan commented on the former world champion’s experience, saying he is “pleased” that Amir is speaking out.

“I am pleased what Amir has done is speak about his experiences because not everyone is a former world champion, not everyone is an Olympic medallist, not everyone has a platform and by people like Amir talking about it hopefully it makes those authorities in America realise it is really not on”, he said.

 Sky News

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