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7 passengers kicked off Spirit Airlines flight at LAX; some claim racial discrimination

Seven passengers were booted from a Spirit Airlines flight at Los Angeles International Airport on Monday night, and one of them says they were discriminated against because they were black.

The onboard commotion began about 7:15 p.m. when an African American couple raised concerns about an overbooked seat on Flight 868 to Dallas, said Officer Rob Pedregon, an airport police spokesman.

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A woman was sitting in one of their seats, so the flight crew moved the couple three to four rows forward to another pair of seats, he said. But the male passenger was still upset and became loud and boisterous despite the crews’ request to stop, Pedregon said. Police were called when he became angry, he said.

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The couple got off the flight and were rescheduled on a later one that same night, Pedregon said.

But five passengers inside the plane became upset about the double-booking incident and began complaining, he said. The chatter among the group of passengers, he said, escalated and caused a disturbance.

The flight crew asked them to stop but they continued, Pedregon said.

That’s when the captain told the passengers that they had to leave.

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As the passengers exited the plane, they told several officers that they were kicked off the plane, he said. But they never indicated that they were kicked off because they were black, Pedregon said. The airline booked the passengers on another flight, he added.

“It was just a business dispute,” he said. “It was a service issue.”

Passenger Alexandra Wright told KCBS-TV they were targeted and kicked off the flight because they were black.

“I’m really humiliated just for the simple fact that you hear about this type of stuff happening in America, discrimination issues and stuff like that, but to actually experience it firsthand,” she said.

Passenger Ty Walker told KNBC-TV he and the other passengers were asked to leave the flight because they were considered a threat.

“We asked, ‘What constitutes a threat?’ We never raised our voice, we never cursed, we never did anything,” he said.

Tyler Grosso took photograph of the dispute between the flight crew and the passengers.

Grosso on Twitter said three separate black passengers were booted from the plane for talking. He called on Spirit Airlines to fire the employees, who he claimed were racist.

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Spirit Airlines said it is investigating the incident.

“Spirit does not tolerate any form of discrimination,” spokesman Paul Berry said. “Our primary concern is always the safety of our customers and team members.”

For breaking news in California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA

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