Friday, February 12, 2016

Boarding Denied!

I was denied boarding Easyjet flight from Amsterdam to London Gatwick, Flight Number EZY8876, departing Tue 02 Feb 14:20. I was taken off the flight last minute at the boarding gate. The reason given was that I did not meet the security requirements of the Airline. Easyjet carries out security checks at the boarding gate to ensure all passengers are documented properly, in addition to these checks there are other measures in place too such as border control and airport security checks. Despite all these checks the airline has been carrying out special checks on me. Over the last year or so I have flown with easyjet four times and I have been subjected to special check on all instances. The first and second checks were in January 2015 when flying from London Gatwick to Amsterdam and on return. Back in January 2015 I reported mistreatment, abuse and aggressive questioning; Easyjet did not provide adequate response and the complaint was escalated to CAA. it took almost a year for CAA to investigate claims of harassment and abuse and a final response was provided by Easyjet Regulatory Support Team on 18th January 2016 where they conclude that on both instances I was subject of random security check.

I flew from London Gatwick to Amsterdam on the 28th Jan 2016 on easyjet flight EZY8881 and at the boarding gate I was again questioned, threatened and humiliated for a total of 11 minutes and 10 seconds in addition to checks carried out on all passengers. I was questioned by three staff members, two at the counter and a supervisor over the telephone on a range of issues that did not relate to the flight or were redundant questions that the airline was provided with documentation and details through the API (advance passenger information), operated by the airline. Hence the questioning did not serve any particular practical purpose but created a climate of intimidation, hostility and harassment where I felt humiliated and targeted. I will later provide an extraction of the transcript in order to give an accurate idea of the questioning.

On the 02 Feb 2016 when returning from Amsterdam to London Gatwick I was checked and boarded like all other passenger but the staff had another thought and was again selected for questioning and passed on to another staff member for detailed scrutiny. This does not fit the definition of random checks and I enquired as to why I am the subject of another security check. I was told that the reason was because of my national origin and it is a normal practice by the airline to target certain nationals for extra checks. I did not submit for the extra security check as I was assured by the airline that they do not discriminate on the basis of origin or belief through various correspondences. I presumed that it was a mistake and upon contacting supervisors the staff will let me board the plane but I turned out to be wrong and had to leave the airport and enter the Nederland through airport immigration in order to find another flight. While at the counter I called Dutch Emergency police number and asked for assistance, as I was a target or racism immediately miss a flight. The police refused to help as their assessment was that security checks were a normal feature of air travel and it did not constitute racial discrimination.

I believe I missed my flight because Easyjet rules are not clear, confusing and contradictory. I have been given different information as to why I am subject of special checks, it is unclear what the aim of such checks are, it is unclear what document and information I should supply at the spot and what information should be supplied before the flight. Most importantly its unclear why I am the only passenger that is on another category of document assessment. The rules only state that all passengers should be properly documented which I have always been and is demonstrated on the first instance.

In all honesty I am not interested in what motives they might have but only want this to stop. I should add that this pattern of harassment and threats is similar to attitudes displayed by other state and commercial organisation where I have dealings. I have been denied a money account, removed from premises or even not allowed to withdraw money from my bank account due to my national origin.

There is little that can be done, the UK does not have an ombudsman or enforcement agency to monitor and enforce the Equality Act 2010. The only redress of any infringement is to refer the issue to the court, which is a very time consuming and costly process. I am not alleging racial discrimination by the British state or the commercial companies but highlighting the fact that rights and privileges that citizen enjoy are established through customs, habits and practice. Citizen do not go by everyday to fight for their rights and such struggles will be impractical even in the UK where the rule of law is established and upheld. The rules become extremely complicated when dealing with people who are perceived as undesirable. Such person is only defined by his or her nationality through policies and practices of the state, media and society. As an Afghan there is a different set of rules for me that are extremely draconian and does not reflect any of the values Britain aspire to uphold. These rules govern public and commercial interactions, my relation to the state and even condition of living in the UK. I believe the provision of human rights is deliberately misleading in order to establish an egalitarian vision for the society but in reality it should be labelled “citizen rights” or “western rights” or more accurately “rights of citizens of desirable countries”.  

28th January 2016 Event transcript

easyjet staff 1: do you have an extension?  
Sanjar: What extention is that?
easyjet staff 1: you need an extension on your passport. 
Sanjar: this is my passport i need no other extensions. 
easyjet staff 1:  yes you do need one. 
easyjet staff 1: that is nothing. this means nothing. you can not travel on that. 

easyjet staff 1: you do need an extension you can not travel on that.

easyjet staff 1:  that is not valid. it is invalid. you can not travel on that. 



sanjar: why is my passport taking so long?
easyjet staff 1: because it does so. 
sanjar: it has been two dozen passengers who already boarded...
easyjet staff 1: its all fine. I am just checking your passport. 
sanjar: but why are you only checking my passport?
easyjet staff 1:  for the right documents, sir
sanjar: why is everyone else not checked for the right documents?
easyjet staff 1:  because they don't need the documents sir. 
sanjar: they don't need documents to get on the flight?
easyjet staff 1: not documents that you need. 
sanjar: what documents do i need?
easyjet staff 1: that is why I am checking.

At this point the easyjet staff 1 leaves the table without explaining what she is doing and where she is taking my passport and documents. 

easyjet staff 2: Sir, would you like to just come round?
an easyjet staff takes me to another table. 

easyjet staff 1 is on the phone asking for instructions and guidance to deal with me. she asks for my UK residence card for inspection. 

easyjet staff 1: how long are you going for?
sanjar: why do you need to know that?
easyjet staff 1: because my colleague asks?
sanjar: why do you need to know that?
easyjet staff 1: how long are you going for?
sanjar: you are not asking that question from anyone else.
easyjet staff 1: how long are you staying for?
easyjet staff 1: my colleague needs to know. 

sanjar: i am not telling you until you tell me why you need to know that.

easyjet staff 1: then you can not travel sir. 

easyjet staff 1: do you have any other family member that live there?
sanjar: I am boarding the flight why do you need to know about my family?
easyjet staff 1: my colleague needs to know. 

easyjet staff 2: now sir its very important for the border control to know these questions. 
sanjar: you are not border control. 
........ .......
easyjet staff 2: well. we can not let you on the flight. 
easyjet staff 2: we need to know all the information to be able to let you on the flight.
sanjar: why
easyjet staff 2: because we need to know
sanjar: but why, is that the regulations?
easyjet staff 2: yes. 
I am now asked to come back to the counter without offering an explaination of what is happening next. 

sanjar: can you please tell me what are we doing here?
easyjet staff 1: I am writing down your document details, sir. 
sanjar: what details do you need?
easyjet staff 1: it doesn't matter.
sanjar: it does matter, what details do you need.
easyjet staff 1: its all in here. 

please note throughout this despicable episode I am not explained the procedure and chauffeured around without being explained what is happening and why. most importantly please note the tone of intimidation and constant threats, I have highlighted in bold half a dozen instances where I am told the equivalent of not being allowed to fly.