February 11, 2004
American (Christian) Airlines
NEW YORK, Feb 9 (AFP) - An American
Airlines pilot is facing an internal investigation after reportedly
asking Christian passengers to identify themselves, and suggesting
that non-Christians on his flight were "crazy."
Speaking Monday on CNN's "American Morning," several passengers said
the Sunday flight from Los Angeles to New York had not yet taken off, when the
pilot chose to address everyone on board. "He said he'd recently been on
a mission trip, and he'd like all the Christians to please raise their hands," said
passenger Jen Dorsey.
According to fellow passenger Karla Austin, "He
said, 'If you are a Christian, raise your hand.' He said, 'If you
are not, you're crazy'." Austin
said no passengers raised their hands. The pilot also asked passengers to look
around at each other and use their flying time wisely.
American Airlines said
the pilot, whose name was not revealed, had recently returned from a mission
trip to Costa Rica. In a statement, the airline said his comments amounted
to a "personal level of sharing that may not be appropriate
for one of our employees to do while on the job."
said the remarks had made them deeply uneasy and that many on board
had reached for their mobile phones,
fearing the pilot might take some sort of drastic action. "Just given
the history of what's happened on planes in this country, anything can happen
this point," Austin said. "There was definitely implication there
that we felt that something was going to happen."
Complaints were relayed
by flight attendants to the cockpit, and 45 minutes into the flight the pilot
an apology, but one that was directed at his crew for having had to deflect
the passenger criticism.
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