Atlanta, GA, June 30, 2017: An Indian-American Iowa State University professor and his white adopted son had their flight plans delayed after a Delta flight attendant reported him for suspicious activity in Atlanta, reports WHOTV.
Professor Lakshman Rajagopal, a single father, had just arrived at Hartsfield Jackson Airport after a 6 am flight from Des Moines when he was stopped by Delta employees. He was told child trafficking has been a big issue and airlines have been told to keep an eye out for possible cases. Rajagopal says a flight attendant alerted the pilot of suspicious activity because he looked nervous when he requested a different seat for more room for him and his toddler son. The pilot then called the Atlanta airport where two employees were waiting on his arrival and questioned him.
Rajagoapal says he was asked questions like, “Who’s this, who are you traveling with and where are you going? What’s your relationship with this child?”
The professor says the experience was humiliating. “ I don’t know if I want to fly Delta. Also, on the 28th I have to go back to Iowa and I’m kind of scared to go to Iowa and scared to go on a flight to Iowa. I’m not against Delta but I feel like this is a good example with how people still have a problem with color. I didn’t think my behavior was suspicious because at 6 AM, with a toddler, a single parent, how am I supposed to look? I don’t think I’d look excited,” he said.
“I told them if I was white, this would not be a problem because a white person with a white child would be fine.”
Delta offered him a $500 voucher to use within a year. They’ve also said they will use his situation as a way to improve their security training with employees, reports WHOTV.