Airline denies re-entry into US to couple

FAIRFAX, VA — An Indian American couple from Fairfax, Va., on January 7 was allegedly denied re-entry into the country after an encounter with an Aeroflot staffer escalated.

Shahana Islam, 26, and Marc Fernandes, 27, attempted to board a US-bound flight with Aeroflot in Moscow, Russia, after a vacation with family and friends. The couple was stuck in New Delhi, India, however, after the encounter with a staffer resulted with them allegedly being sent back to India.

Islam and Fernandes begged to be sent back to the US after the airline employee claimed that “all citizens of the country that need visas in our country after 24 hours will be deported,” according to a video of the incident that was shared on Facebook.

The incident was captured on video by Islam, who later shared the footage on January 7 on Facebook. The video, which generated more than 28,000 views, showed the couple pleading for Mikhail–the Aeroflot worker–to allow them to be “deported to the US.”

Mikhail stormed off after the couple continued to assert they were American citizens, but he refused to believe them and referred to them as “Indian passengers,” the video showed.

“This guy is discriminating against Indians and trying to ‘deport’ us all back to India,” Islam wrote on Facebook. “As a US citizen per International Air Transport Association regulation, they need to send us to the US, not back to India. He literally looked at people and decided who needs to go back to India. Can I sue him and Aeroflot?”

IATA, which represents Aeroflot among 280 other airlines, works towards maintaining order for passengers like Islam and Fernandes in scenarios like these. The organization also disputes unreasonable rules and charges, hold regulators and governments to account, and strive for sensible regulation, according to its website.

Aeroflot confirmed that an internal investigation is under way as the airline strives towards providing “the highest standards of customer service, even in the midst of major travel disruptions due to weather, and we regret the tremendous inconvenience caused to passengers in this case.”