May 24, 2013
By Ofer Tirosh
Six San Diego residents were recently kicked off a Spirit Airlines flight for speaking Russian. The group included a teacher, a business owner and an accountant. They were traveling to Las Vegas for an anniversary party.
A couple in the group claims that less than 10 minutes after boarding they were led off the plane, for no apparent reason.
"Confused, very confused," said Dmitry Bitman, a man in the group who was traveling with his wife.
According to Bitman the group was chatting in normal voices with each other across the aisle when a flight attendant came up and told them they needed to leave.
"He just said, 'This row needs to get up and leave now. It was humiliating to be treated that way,'" said Sana Bitman, Dmitry’s wife.
Later they were told by an airline representative that due to the Boston Marathon bombings one of the flight attendants was intimidated by them speaking in Russian. But the group says they never received a warning from the flight attendant. They were completely in the dark that speaking in their native language was a problem.
The airline claims an announcement was made over the airplane loudspeaker, but a video recorded by the Bitmans backs up their claim that an announcement did not take place. The group is now seeking legal recourse for the incident.
"This is a country of freedom. I don't want this to happen to anyone else," said Sana Bitman.
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