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Is US Airways Anti-Family?

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Through the years, it seems airlines have been charged with discrimination against passengers on every issue under the sky.

Before it was absorbed by Delta (DAL), Northwest Airlines caught flack for denying three Iraqi-born men entrance onto a Minneapolis flight bound for Salt Lake City in the weeks following September 11. Ten years later, Delta Air Lines Inc. and Atlantic Southeast Airlines Inc. (SKYW) are being sued by a different pair of Muslim men who were kicked off a flight -- taking them to an anti-discrimination conference -- because the pilot worried their beards and "traditional Arabic clothing" would make other passengers nervous.

Holding bias against a passenger’s manner of dress is yet another accusation hurled against airlines. A 19-year-old African-American college football safety for the University of New Mexico got booted off a US Airways (LCC) flight after refusing to pull up his baggy pants. Oddly enough, businessmen cross-dressing in lingerie are able to pass the dress code on that same airline.

Southwest has raised the ire of “customers of size” who are required to purchase two seats in order to fly the airline. We saw this policy put, very publicly, into action when corpulent film director Kevin Smith got kicked off a Southwest Air (LUV) flight in April of 2010.  

And, of course, Alec Baldwin recently joined the ranks of jilted fliers when American Airlines (AMR) exposed its bigotry against Words With Friends players.

Just when you thought all the gripes against airlines (legitimate or otherwise) had been exhausted, Kathy and Jason Fickes of Charlotte, North Carolina have come out of the aisle kicking and screaming. Because US Airways refused to let the couple and their four children try to fit into just three seats, the airline is now anti-family.

“I feel like we were discriminated against because we had too many young children in their eyes,” said Kathy Fickes.

While the couple bought a ticket for themselves and their three-year-old son on a flight to Chicago to visit grandparents over the holidays, they had worked out a system. They planned to seat one of their 20-month-old twins with the three-year-old and put the remaining twin and their eight-month-old infant in each of their laps. US Airways’ policy, stated on its website, reads that children under the age of two may fly free but must be accompanied by an adult if they are sharing a seat. This policy complies with FAA safety regulations.

After delaying the flight for upwards of 50 minutes, by Jason Fickes’ own estimation, the family was finally removed from the plane. US Airways did, however, refund their tickets.
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