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CAIR Welcomes New DOT Guidance Docs on Preventing Airline Discrimination

Airline 2 1(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/18/17) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today welcomed new U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) guidance documents on how to prevent discrimination in air travel issued to airline personnel.

SEE: DOT Issues Guidance Documents to Prevent Airline Discrimination

In its announcement, the DOT released the following two documents:

The Guidance for Airline Personnel on Nondiscrimination in Air Travel

The Passengers’ Right to Fly Free from Discrimination

The “Guidance for Airline Personnel on Nondiscrimination in Air Travel,†stresses the legal obligation to operate without discriminating in air travel based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, or ancestry. The second document, “Passengers’ Right to Fly Free from Discrimination,†helps passengers understand their rights when flying on commercial airlines.

In the new documents, airline personnel are offered a number of “Illustrative Scenarios,†including ones in which a passenger is observed holding a book written in Arabic, a “bearded male passenger with a tan complexion boards the aircraft†and others in which passengers wear a Sikh turban or an Islamic head scarf (hijab).

“Following our recent efforts calling on the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue clear policy guidelines for the airline industry, we welcome this development as a positive step toward eliminating discrimination against passengers based on their actual or perceived religious or ethnic background,†said CAIR National Staff Attorney Maha Sayed. 

In July of last year, following an influx of passenger removal incidents, CAIR filed a complaint to the DOT's Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceeding requesting it to:

“onduct a thorough examination into the prevailing practices of major U.S.  air carriers and publicly announce its findings, including whether any violations of law may have occurred. . . develop clear policy guidelines on the objective factors that are to be considered when determining a passenger may legally be removed from a flight. In light of these incidents, we also urge the Enforcement Office to require that airlines undergo regular sensitivity and diversity trainings for their employees to ensure that passengers are not subjected to unfair and discriminatory treatment in the future.“

Full Text of CAIR Letter:


SEE: CAIR Asks Feds to Probe Removal of Muslim Passenger from American Airlines Flight

CAIR has documented more than 149 removals from flights, buses or trains in the first nine months of last year, more than double the 62 of the same period for the previous year. The Washington-based civil rights organization publishes a “Know Your Rights and Responsibilities” pocket guide that includes a section on “Your Rights as an Airline Passenger.”

SEE: CAIR’s Know Your Rights as an Airline Passenger

The Washington-based civil rights and advocacy organization urges community members to report any bias incidents to police and to CAIR's Civil Rights Department at 202-742-6420 or by filing a report at:

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

La misión de CAIR es mejorar la comprensión del Islam, fomentar el diálogo, proteger las libertades civiles, capacitar a los musulmanes estadounidenses, y construir coaliciones que promuevan la justicia y la comprensión mutua.

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CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726,

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