After an airline attendant allegedly made discriminatory remarks towards her, Tahera Ahmad is calling for an international boycott of the airline - and the hashtag #unitedfortahera has gone viral
Unless you’re so petrified of planes that you spend the entire time when you’re in the air with your eyes squeezed shut, spotting the drinks trolley approaching your seat is usually the highlight of any longhaul flight. But for Tahera Ahmad, it reduced her to “tears of humiliation”, after her United Airlines attendant allegedly refused to give her an unopened can of Diet Coke, for fear that she would “use it as a weapon”.
As Tahera recalls in a Facebook post she wrote while still in the air, all was going well with her journey, until she she requested her drink. The flight attendant reportedly brought her a can that had already been opened. “She said nobody has consumed from the drink,” Tahera wrote. “But I requested an unopened can. She then said, ‘Well I’m sorry I can’t give you an unopened can so no Diet Coke for you’. She then brought the man sitting next to me a can of UNOPENED beer.”
When Tahera – who works as a Director of Interfaith Engagement and Associate Chaplain at Northwestern University in Illinois, and was on her way to speak at a Kids For Peace conference in Washington – questioned the attendant further, she replied that she was “unauthorised to give unopened cans to people because they may use it as a [sic] WEAPON on the plane”.
Summoning up the last of her energy, Tahera asked other passengers if they’d witnessed the discimination that she was being subjected to. But instead of showing her support, she recalls that one man yelled, “You Moslem, you need to shut the F*** up”, while the others just bowed their heads and looked away. “I can’t help but cry on this plane,” Tahera adds. “I thought people would defend me and say something.”
But while nobody rose to the occasion on the plane, thousands of strangers are supporting Tahera now. Since posting her account of events online, the hashtag #unitedfortahera has spread across Twitter, with her followers calling for an international boycott of the airline over its “inexcusable” behaviour. In fact, by the time the plane had landed, Tahera’s post had garnered so much attention, the flight attendant in question was forced to say sorry. “[She] acknowledged that her behaviour was utterly rude,” Tahera said in a follow-up post. “The pilot also apologised for everything that had happened and said that as a white male he recognised his privilege and he didn’t know what it must feel like to be a minority and go through something as hateful as this.”
United Airlines have since revealed that they are “reaching out” to Tahera directly to “get a better understanding of what occurred during the flight”