A US airline has apologised to members of an Indian-origin Muslim family including three children, who were off loaded from a plane after co-passengers overheard what they thought was a "suspicious" remark.
The family was not allowed to board the AirTran flight to Orlando from Washington after they were removed from the plane despite the FBI clearing them of any wrongdoing.
Kashif Irfan and his brother Atif, both Indian-Americans born in Detroit and based in Virginia, along with their wives, a sister and 3 children were removed from the filght before takeoff on Thursday after some passengers reported that one of them was discussing the safest place to travel in an airplane.
The airline refused to re-book the family despite FBI clearing them of any wrongdoing after interviewing them. Ultimately the FBI helped them book a flight on USAirways.
"We regret that the issue escalated to the heightened security level it did," AirTran said in a statement last evening. "But we trust everyone understands that the security and the safety of our passengers is paramount."
The airline said it had refunded the family's money and offered to fly them back home to Washington free.
Kashif Irfan, a 34-year-old anesthesiologist, said he was "surprised" by AirTran's apology, CNN reported.
The AirTran statement was an abrupt about-face for the airline, which came three hours after it had issued a press release without an apology.