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JetBlue says toddler’s removal from flight resulted from computer error

The removal of an 18-month-old toddler from a Jetblue flight in Florida on May 8 was due to a “computer glitch,” said the airline.

The toddler, named Riyanna, and her parents were removed from the flight departing from the Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport and bound for New Jersey because the airline said the child’s name came up on a no-fly list. The parents have requested anonymity.

News reports said the family is of Middle Eastern descent and that the mother wears a hijab, or headscarf. The family had boarded the aircraft in Ft. Lauderdale, but a JetBlue employee asked them to leave, saying the TSA wanted to talk with them. They alleged that they were racially profiled and the incident left them humiliated.

 JetBlue Airlines issued a statement on May 10 that said the removal was due to a “computer glitch” and that TSA had cleared the family to travel.

"Upon boarding Flight 510 at Fort Lauderdale International Airport last evening, a customer’s boarding pass was flagged in our system as being on the TSA's No Fly list,” said the JetBlue statement on May 9.

TSA said the name didn’t come up on its Secure Flight list, however, and blamed the error on the airline. "TSA did not flag this child as being on the No Fly list,” according to a statement from the agency. “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," it said.

In its statement, the airline explained it notified and collaborated with TSA and acknowledged the agency had cleared the family to travel.  It also said it trains workers to treat passengers with respect, dignity and discretion.

“We are investigating this particular incident,” it added. “We believe this was a computer glitch. Our crewmembers followed the appropriate protocols, and we apologize to the family involved in this unfortunate circumstance.”

JetBlue went on to explain that it works with airport authorities and the TSA on layered security measures “from booking a flight to checking in, clearing security and boarding an aircraft  --  that are enforced by the airline in collaboration with airport authorities and the Transportation Security Administration…”


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