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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."

Passengers 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 at 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 issued an apology, but one that was directed at his crew for having had to deflect the passenger criticism.

Sent by Ramin

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