'Glitch' cited for toddler's no-fly status

May 11, 2012 at 9:46 AM
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., May 11 (UPI) -- JetBlue Airways has apologized to a couple who were told their 18-month-old toddler was on a government no-fly list, blaming a computer error.

The family of Middle Eastern descent was flying from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to Newark, N.J., Tuesday when a JetBlue employee asked them to leave the plane, saying their daughter, identified only as Riyanna, was on the government's no-fly list, CNN reported Friday.

"I said, 'For what?'" the mother told WPBF-TV, West Palm Beach, Fla. "He said, 'It is not you or your husband. Your daughter was flagged as no-fly.'"

The parents, who won't disclose their names, said they lived in New Jersey all of their lives.

The government said the child's name wasn't on any official list and disputed the airline's initial description of events.

"TSA did not flag this child as being on the no-fly list," Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Sterling Payne told CNN. "TSA was called to the gate by the airline and after talking to the parents and confirming through our vetting system, TSA determined the airline had mistakenly indicated the child was on a government watch list."

The airline blamed a computer mistake.

"We are investigating this particular incident. We believe this was a computer glitch," JetBlue spokeswoman Allison Steinberg said in a statement. "Our crew members followed the appropriate protocols, and we apologize to the family involved in this unfortunate circumstance."

The parents said they didn't continue on the flight because they were humiliated.

"We were put on display like a circus act because my wife wears a hijab," the father said.

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