Woman accused of having flu is forced off UAL Hawaii flight


POSTED: Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A 50-year-old Hawaii Kai woman and her 12-year-old daughter returned home yesterday—a day late—after they were forced off a flight leaving Tampa, Fla., on Monday morning because she was suspected of having the flu after asking for an airsickness bag.

“;I was very angry,”; said Mitra Mostoufi, who was on a United Airlines flight home from Tampa (with a stopover in Denver). “;I was embarrassed. ... They were yelling at me, 'Get your belongings. Let's go, let's go.'”;

Mostoufi said an employee screamed at her daughter, Paige, “;Where do you think you're going?”; when she headed in the wrong direction.

Mostoufi, who suffers from restless leg syndrome, said she had taken the wrong medication and threw up in the lavatory shortly before the plane was scheduled to depart.

When she asked a flight attendant for an airsickness bag, the flight attendant asked a quick succession of questions, repeatedly asking whether she had the flu, and Mostoufi was suddenly being ushered off the plane.

Mostoufi said she was told she was a health risk.

;[Preview]  Hawaii woman kicked off United flight comes home

After being kicked off a United Airlines Flight, Mitra Mostoufi from Hawaii Kai is back at home.

Watch ]


United Airlines spokesman Rahsaan Johnson said, “;The highest priority of the employees is to ensure that those people who are flying, fly safely.

“;That it is our highest priority—to protect the safety of our customers,”; he said. “;If there is concern about a customer's health, it is in the interest of that customer and other customers on board the airplane that the illness be addressed on the ground, pre-departure.”;

But Mostoufi was upset, not only about being ordered to leave the plane and the manner in which she and her daughter were told, but what happened next.

“;At the same time, they are replacing me,”; she said. A couple stood laughing in the aisle, ready to take her and her daughter's seats, she said.

“;I wasn't sick,”; she said. “;They could just look at me.”;

A man who identified himself as a manager looked up flights and offered her an American Airlines flight to Hawaii.

“;If I'm such a health risk, why am I going on American?”; she asked.

She said the manager replied, “;It is what it is,”; which infuriated her further.

Mostoufi said she did not want to take the American flight. “;I wanted my flight.”;

Johnson said, “;After some discussion between the gate agents, they felt she may be well enough to fly. The next available flight was an American Airlines flight. Our agents said, 'OK, now that we feel comfortable that she's not too sick to travel herself or is contagious, let's put her on the American Airlines flight.'”;