Bali responds to ‘unruly’ Jetstar family
Bali's Denpasar Airport has weighed in on the controversy surrounding an Australian family that was kicked off a Jetstar flight, saying they were "unruly" and not targeted because of their religion.
Sarah Aslan, 23, and her husband Muhammed married in Bali in a $40,000 wedding late last month, but the dream trip fell apart on Monday when they and 20 relatives were marched off their Melbourne-bound Jetstar flight after an altercation with flight attendants.
Mrs Aslan has since claimed the family was targeted because of their Muslim faith and for "looking ethnic". Jetstar has disputed the family's claims.
And in a statement on Wednesday, Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar confirmed the family's removal from the plane was because of their behaviour, not faith.
"We want to convey that the removal of a number of passengers from (the Jetstar flight) was purely because of security and flight safety reasons related to unruly passengers," airport spokesman Arie Ahsanurrohim said in a statement published in the Jakarta Post.
He added the family's removal "had nothing to do with SARA issues", referring to the Indonesian term that describes tribal affiliations, religious, race and social groups.
The spokesman said the incident began when the plane was preparing to take off and cabin crew asked passengers to return to their seats and put on seatbelts.
"Two passengers did not heed the cabin crew's instructions," he said.
One passenger told a flight attendant his in-flight entertainment screen didn't work and was told it would be dealt with after takeoff - but two member of their family remained standing.
"After the warnings were not heeded by the aforementioned passengers, the cabin crew reported the incident to the pilot … who decided that the two passengers should be removed from the plane because they would not listen to the flight safety instructions from the cabin crew," the spokesman said.
He said other passengers who protested the removal of the two passengers were also taken off the plane.
In footage obtained by Nine, wedding guest Mike Mahmoud, who is understood to be the passenger who complained about the in-flight entertainment screen, can be heard talking to Jetstar staff members.
"Is it the beard? It feels like it might be," he says sarcastically, alluding to him being targeted because of his Muslim faith.
Other passengers said as the family continued to argue with staff, things became so heated the pilot made the decision to turn the plane around and kick the entire family off.
News.com.au understands that while taxiing to the runway, the family became disruptive and failed to follow crew instructions.
Several passengers also told news.com.au that the family were disruptive prior to boarding, reportedly pushing in to reach the front of the queue.
In an interview, Mrs Aslan claims the family was "attacked" for their faith and appearance.
"Personally, it did feel like we were being attacked for looking ethnic and being Muslim," she said.
"That's why I started crying. I'm like, I just want to go home, I don't want to be here anymore."
After the family arrived back at the terminal, more than a dozen security guards showed up to take them off the plane, leaving them stranded at the airport at 2am.
Jetstar booked them on another flight 24 hours later, at no extra cost, with the family arriving back in Melbourne on Tuesday night.
The airline disputed the family's claims.
"The safety of our customers and crew is our number one priority, and we do not tolerate any kind of disruptive or abusive behaviour," a Jetstar spokesman said.
"We take these allegations extremely seriously and are investigating the matter, however our crew dispute the claims made by these passengers."