PUBLISHED: 08:33 EST, 10 May 2012 | UPDATED: 10:03 EST, 10 May 2012
A family said they have been left ‘humiliated’ after they were ordered off a flight because airline staff claimed their 18-month-old was on a no fly list.
The girl’s parents, who did not wish to be identified, believe Jet Blue asked them to leave the flight as they thought little Riyanna was a terror suspect.
An employee approached the family and said officers from the Transport Security Agency at the Fort Lauderdale Airport wished to speak with them.
The girl’s mother told WPBF she asked ‘For what?’ and the employee said: ‘It’s not you or your husband. Your daughter was flagged as no fly.’
Her husband added: ‘It made no sense. Why would an 18-month-old child be on a no-fly list?’
The parents believe they were stopped as they are both of Middle Eastern descent. Riyanna’s mother wears a head scarf.
Both were born in the United States and raised in New Jersey. They were flying from Florida to their home in New Jersey when they were stopped.
After they left the plane, the family met with TSA agents and were made to stand in the terminal for half an hour, they said.
Riyanna’s father added: ‘We were put on display like a circus act because my wife wears a hijab.’
The couple were told they could re-board the plane, but were not offered an apology or explanation, they told WPBF.
But they refused to re-board the plane as they felt humiliated, they said.
JetBlue, which is investigating the incident, said it was a TSA issue. But the TSA said it is an airline issue and therefore it is not investigating.
TSA added that since Riyanna and her parents were issued boarding passes, they must have been cleared by the TSA and were not on the no-fly list.
Riyanna’s father said he will consult an attorney, believing the family ‘were picked on’.
It is just the latest example of questionable security and search methods used at the nation’s airports.
Just two weeks ago, a Long Island family missed their flight from John F. Kennedy Airport to Florida after a TSA agent searched their disabled seven-year-old daughter, who suffers from cerebral palsy.
Dina Frank could not walk through the metal detectors because of her crutches and orthotics, and was instead subjected to a pat down by security agents – a severely traumatic event for the girl.
‘She’s not a threat to national security,’ the outraged father told The Daily.
Just days later, passengers at Newark Airport were delayed for hours when the Port Authority evacuated a terminal because of an unscreened infant.
The TSA said that the parents of the infant passed the child back and forth through the metal detector, causing alarms go off.
When TSA agents realised that the baby got away without an individual screening, they started a desperate search for the family to no avail. When they could not find them, they evacuated the entire terminal.
And just weeks before, TSA agents were accused of subjecting a boy in a wheelchair to an invasive body search.
His parents were not allowed to be near him as agents at O’Hare Airport in Chicago swabbed the boy for explosive residue in a security check.