Truth is a funny thing — it is immutable, but it can hide. History is written by the victors and beyond the trite but accurate cliche that there are two sides to every story, sometimes we should all be a bit more judicious in rushing to judgment.
I stood by Tahera Ahmad and condemned the FA for denying her a can of soda — her story seemed believable because in my millions of miles of flying I have witnessed FA bigotry on several occasions and I have also seen time and again unnecessary overreaction by FAs to innocuous requests.
I am not changing my opinion of the incident yet, for United did investigate and still issued a public apology to Ms. Ahmad, but this alleged first-hand observation on Flyertalk does give me pause:
I was actually on this flight on Friday evening from ORD to DCA. I have been a reader of this forum for a long time but seeing this all over the news made me sign up so I could tell you what really happened here and hopefully stop this liar in her tracks. I was sitting close enough to her to hear everything that was said. The flight attendant came up to the lady (I believe she even took her order first in the entire cabin as she was seated in the bulkhead 7d) and took her order.
She ordered a coke zero and a hot green tea with a Splenda. The flight attendant handed her a full diet coke with a cup on top and then told her that the green tea would take a few minutes and she would get it to her ASAP. The lady said very rudely and condescending to the FA that she ordered a coke zero and basically pushed the soda back to the flight attendant. The FA said she was sorry and attempted to find a coke zero for her (which she did not have many of) and told her that she could only give her a portion of the can not the full can.
This is when the lady in question started to freak out and told the FA “What do you think I will use this as a weapon?! Why can’t I have the whole can? I think you are discriminating against me. I need your name….” The lady just kept yelling to her “I need your name… I am being discriminated against.”
This is when a few passengers told her to calm down and one guy told her to “shut her mouth and she is being ridiculous over a can of coke”. No one ever said anything anti-Muslim to her at all. She was the one who started screaming discrimination when she did not get what she wanted. The FA asked her numerous times if she would like anything else when the lady just basically pushed her away with a hand in her face. The lady then got onto her phone with her credit card and paid for the internet so she could start spinning this story on social media and she was never in tears.
This person is a liar plain and simple and is just pulling the discrimination card.
If [United] wants to contact me I will verify that I was on the flight. The FA was very nice to all passengers (Even this lady) before and after this happened. Numerous people around me told the FA that they would let the airline know what happened to protect her job so I am hoping that they have reached out to UA.
When questioned, he also added–
I was seated in the row directly behind this lady. I was supposed to be in 7a (which the screaming guy was seated when I arrived) but took his seat in 8d. That is how I heard and saw everything.
It would be nice to see some journalists with more resources at their disposal than I have track down this passengers and see if s/he was actually on the flight. Perhaps the fact that we have not heard anything further is beacuse s/he was not credible.
Because if s/he was telling the truth…well, then I owe this poor FA a huge apology and Ms. Ahmad loses all moral credibility.
Just as I innocently said, “I hope you didn’t think I was a terrorist” when I got booted from a United flight, I can see her responding to the denial of her request for a full can of Coke Zero in the same way — “What, do you think I will use this as a weapon?”
That is not an unreasonable reaction to an infrequent flyer accustomed to receiving a full can especially when the man next to her received a full can of beer.
But, but, but…if the FA explained to her there were only one or two cans of Coke Zero for the whole plane (this seems possible) then her reaction is totally unreasonable.
Something does not add up here. At the very least, the Coke Zero vs. Diet Coke issue (Ahmad claimed on Facebook she ordered Diet Coke) is a glaring discrepancy for someone who was seated one row behind. United Express also does not stock green tea unless the FA was just going to bring her hot water.
What do you think? Will we ever get to the bottom of this?