Saudi Diplomats Sue Continental for Kicking Them Off Plane

Two Saudi Arabian diplomats have filed suit here against Continental Airlines, saying they were tossed off a flight to Houston simply because they were speaking a foreign language.

The action "unnecessarily subjected [them] to humiliation, degradation and embarrassment despite having previously shown themselves to be persons of proven honor," the lawsuit states.

Mohammed Alnahaoi and Salem Almutiry both worked in the Saudi consulate here in Houston. Last May they boarded a flight from Minneapolis to Houston, and they said trouble began.

Twice a flight attendant (the suit wins no PC honors by sometimes referring to her as a "stewardess") asked them to change seats, they say.

They produced their diplomatic credentials and politely asked what was going on, the suit says; the stew flight attendant left and returned with security. The pair were taken off the plane and, they claim, left stranded at the airport.

"The excuse provided for this behavior was that the plaintiffs had been overheard to have spoken to each other in a foreign language," the suit says.

Just to capture the flavor of the thing, here's a verbatim slice of the filing. This is all a single sentence, by the way:

The plaintiffs were rudely ejected by the plaintiff Continental from their purchased, peaceful and quiet enjoyment of their journey home following the successful culmination of their assigned diplomatic mission when, in the presence of a plane-full of other friendly and congenial airline passengers, they were unnecessarily subjected to humiliation, degradation and embarrassment despite having previously shown themselves to be persons of proven honor without any showing of criminal intent and, therefore, worthy of at least ordinary respect and courtesy; rather, they were detained in the manner of common-criminals and placed under the apparent and/or effective detention and/or civil arrest in that public place, and taken into custody under the threat of police powers to cause further detention and/or incarceration by the personnel in charge of public premises and the common-passenger air-carrier and the air-terminal upon and in which they were paying customers and invited guests; all without reason or excuse in fact or law.

One hell of a sentence, there.

We've asked Continental for reaction or comment but have not heard back; we'll update if they do reply.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly