In January 2019, an Orthodox Jewish couple and their 19-month-old baby were booted from a flight just moments after sitting down.
The couple has now brought a lawsuit against American Airlines.
The claims outline a travel experience as awkward as it is scathing.
The Detroit Free Press reports that on the January 23, 2019 Yehuda Yosef Adler and Jennie Adler, along with their daughter, planned to fly on an American Airlines flight from Miami to their home in Detroit.
At the time, the couple wore traditional Orthodox Jewish clothing.
Yehuda wore a yarmulke and Jennie was dressed in a long skirt and sheitel, a wig commonly worn as a hair covering by married Orthodox Jewish women.
picture alliance via Getty Images; mysecretwigs.com
First, the couple received some biting treatment by the pilot immediately after they boarded the plane.
Before taking his seat Mr. Adler asked the stewardess for some headphones, claiming that the stewardess on his previous flight assured him he can ask for those in the future.
According to the filed lawsuit, which Detroit Free Press has obtained, the pilot weighed in with a "nasty" tone.
"I wasn't on that plane and we don't offer anything complimentary."
Despite that first confrontation, the Adlers took their seats, though not for long.
Minutes later, the lawsuit states that a gate agent came on the plain and informed the Adlers they had to deboard the plane because of an "emergency."
When the family was back at the gate, the agent informed that they were removed due to "body odor" and at the guidance of the pilot.
The lawsuit claims that the couple showered that morning.
The lawsuit continues, outlining the Adlers' immediate response to the humiliation.
"Plaintiffs were distraught and even though embarrassing, approached persons in the same area of the boarding gate asking them if they could detect unpleasant body odor from any of the Adler family and each and every person (more than 20 people) answered in the negative."
American Airlines, in its response to the lawsuit, paints a much more supportive picture of the event.
"Our team members took care of the family and provided hotel accommodations and meals, and rebooked them on a flight to Detroit the next morning."
"None of the decisions made by our team in handling this sensitive situation were based on the Adler's (sic) religion."
The Adler family countered American Airlines' description, claiming that the plane left with the baby's car seat, stroller and diapers, as well as their other belongings.
Despite American Airlines' insistence that "body odor" and concern for the comfort of other passengers was the cause of removal, the Adler family feels religion played a significant role in the decision.
Some Facebook users took it as a sign of the times.
The lawsuit makes the claim directly, stating:
"The Adlers are being pressured to see their race and religion as inferior to that of Whites, dirty and unwelcome."
Twitter users tended to take American Airlines' side in the dispute.
@NYDailyNews They’re making a big “stink” about this. 🙄— 🤬LoriPruzo🤬 (@🤬LoriPruzo🤬)1580524952.0
@NYDailyNews https://t.co/PIRJrZBVYI— DJ (@DJ)1580525932.0
@NYDailyNews I ride the New York City subways. At rush-hour. You can’t just kick people off because they smell, but… https://t.co/XQPCBq1cvt— Charlie Sweeney (@Charlie Sweeney)1580539213.0
A conference on the lawsuit is scheduled for May 29, 2020.