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Several passengers were booted from a Spirit Airlines flight at Los Angeles International Airport on Monday night, and at least one of those passengers alleges they were discriminated against because they are black.
Airport police were initially called in to escort a couple off Flight 868 after a flight attendant accused a male traveler of being disruptive.
Officer Robert Pedregon with Los Angeles Airport Police said the airline had double-booked certain seats on the plane, and the flight attendant needed to make room.
Five more travelers on the flight were asked to leave after allegedly "going off" about the incident, according to Pedregon. He said flight attendants believed they were inciting other passengers.
But witnesses allege the airline appeared to single out the passengers because they are black.
Tyler Grosso, a traveler who captured the incident on video, recalled the incident.
“As we were about to take off a flight attendant started to yell at a black gentleman saying he threatened him. The man never threatened the flight attendant, he simply asked to get to his seat,” Grosso wrote in an email to NBC News. “They told them they were ‘threatened’ by these African-American passengers who were doing simply nothing but sitting in their seats.”
One of the passengers who was removed told NBC Los Angeles that “the description of the situation describes discrimination.”
However, passenger Krystle Starr said she was seated a few rows behind where the altercation started. She claimed the first passenger was being disruptive and that the discrimination claims are not justified.
“The guy started being belligerent. He called the flight attendant names. Everyone on the plane was like what’s going on,” she said. “When he got off the plane he started screaming race, but it was never once an issue.”
Spirit Airlines did not immediately respond to requests for comment.