"it did feel like we were being attacked for looking ethnic"
A newlywed couple has claimed that they were kicked off a Jetstar flight because of their ethnicity. Twenty of their guests were also ejected from the flight minutes before it was due to take-off.
Sarah Aslan, aged 23, married her long-term partner Muhammed in Bali in October 2019, surrounded by family and friends.
The wedding took 10 months to plan and cost more than $40,000.
However, memories of the dream wedding faded after boarding a flight home to Melbourne, Australia.
Fifteen security guards escorted the 22-strong group from the plane and left them inside Denpasar Airport at 2 am local time.
The incident occurred when one wedding guest, Mike Mahmoud, was involved in an exchange with staff over a fault with the in-flight entertainment.
Mr Mahmoud suggested that he was being treated unfairly due to his ethnicity. He was heard saying to the flight attendant:
“Is it the beard? It feels like it might be.”
Other passengers were shocked at Mr Mahmoud’s remark, but he and others in the group said it was justified.
He added: “I really truly don’t believe I was arrogant, I just wanted to get home.”
The argument between the group and Jetstar staff continued into the terminal.
Mrs Aslan was heard saying: “I didn’t do anything. I don’t need you to speak to me like this, do you understand?
“Where’s the lady that started this s**t before? This is very racist.”
Mrs Aslan went on to explain:
“Personally, it did feel like we were being attacked for looking ethnic and being Muslim.
“That’s why I started crying. I’m like, I just want to go home, I don’t to be here anymore.”
The group were able to secure a flight home 24 hours later, without extra cost.
One group member, Selim Tutunca, claimed that the group was unfairly targeted.
He wrote on the Jetstar Facebook page:
“We were racially, verbally and physically assaulted by both Jetstar crew members and Bali airport officials. We have footage of all of this.
“We were kicked off the flight even though we hadn’t even spoke a single word to the crew members.”
Mr Tutunca revealed that he and his family were stranded in the terminal and were forced to sleep there.
He continued: “We have been waiting for over four hours and my children are sleeping on benches at the airport.
“We weren’t accommodated by Jetstar whatsoever. We tried speaking to them and they didn’t want to know anything about us.
“I am here in Bali stuck at the airport with no accommodation with all my luggage and sleeping children to comfort while being told to get out.”
Mr Tutunca said he and his family “were put through hell” during the ordeal.
While the group have said they were unfairly treated, several passengers claimed they were disruptive onboard the flight.
One passenger said that the plane was taxiing to the runway when signs of “aggression” were being shown by the group.
“This wasn’t tolerated at all by the cabin crew and the pilot took us back to where we board the plane, he said we were waiting on security to come and remove the family.”
According to the passenger, the group agreed to exit the plane but laughed as they made their way off.
The passenger added: “One young man, in particular, was yelling out, saying ‘you are f**ked Jetstar’.”
Jetstar have stated that the group were removed from the flight for safety reasons because they refused to take their seats. They also said that they were being abusive.
A spokesperson for the airline said:
“Whilst taxiing to the runway a number of customers became disruptive and failed to follow crew instructions.”
“The safety of our customers and crew is our number one priority and we do not tolerate any kind of disruptive or abusive behaviour.
“We take these allegations extremely seriously and are investigating the matter, however, our crew dispute the claims made by these passengers.”
Nine News reported that the incident has made the group change their travel plans for the future.
Mr Mahmoud said: “I’ll definitely not be going back to Bali and I think I speak for everyone when I say we definitely won’t be flying with Jetstar for any reason again.”