Celebrity dentist Shawn Sadri said he was booted from an American Airlines flight after he made a wisecrack about President Trump’s immigration policies.
The 35-year-old Iranian-born dentist to the stars was on a plane that was scheduled to depart from Los Angeles to New York on Sunday when, he said, he saw a Spanish-speaking boy crying and running down the aisle.
When a flight attendant came over to see what was happening, Sadri said, he made a joke that perhaps the boy was upset because Trump was going to deport him.
(Courtesy of Shawn Sadri)
“She said, ‘Don’t say that — that’s so rude,’” Sadri told The Washington Post. “It was just a simple joke.”
“I said, ‘You must be a Trump supporter,’ and she said, ‘So what if I am?’ Once I said ‘Trump supporter’ and ‘deported’— that was it.”
Sadri said the argument escalated and that he was soon being escorted off the plane.
American Airlines said in a statement that a passenger was removed from a New York-bound plane early Sunday morning, before it left the gate, “for being disruptive and not following crew member instructions.”
The airline did not name the passenger but said the person was rebooked on the next flight to New York, which departed about an hour later.
Sadri, who lives in New York, said he works with celebrities such as actor Aaron Paul, DJ Afrojack and Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas.
He said he spent the previous week at his West Coast office performing cosmetic dental procedures for clients who were preparing for the Oscars. On Sunday, he said, he boarded an early morning flight for home.
On the plane, Sadri said, he was seated next to the sobbing boy, who was maybe 6 or 7 years old. The boy, who appeared to be Latino, was alone, Sadri said, adding that he assumed the flight attendants were supposed to be caring for him.
Sadri said he tried to talk to the child — but “he was answering back in Spanish.”
The dentist put a blanket and a pair of headphones on him — then the boy jumped up from his seat and started screaming, he said.
“I thought, ‘Oh God,’” he said. That, he said, is when he made the Trump joke.
The flight attendant then asked why the boy was seated in the window seat when he was supposed to be on the aisle, according to Sadri.
”‘How am I supposed to know? That’s your job,’” he said he told the attendant. “She didn’t like me saying stuff to her.”
The back and forth discussion never got out of hand. I didn’t say anything rude to her, swear or raise my voice. She told me if I didn’t calm down they were going to remove me from the plane. I just asked why I was taking care of this child. This final comment resulted in me being escorted off the plane.
She just didn’t like me because I was going back and forth with her. They could have left me on the plane. The captain never said anything or even looked at me when I passed by him. I don’t think he even knew what was going on. What happened next is even more strange. I walked right up to security and they said, ‘We are going to put you on the next flight.’ If I was such a risk, why would they put me on the next flight in 10 minutes?
It seems you can’t speak your mind to a flight attendant or even mention Trump in the air. I was sitting down and not yelling, but I think the whole country is now escalated and I have been getting so many hate emails right now. They’re going after me but I can handle it; it’s no problem. Most of the comments on Twitter are from middle America.
I really didn’t want this to blow up like this. But I’m happy to stand up. I was born a Muslim but I’m not religious, nor are my parents. We drink! We are very Americanized and happy to be here.
“I think all these facts played a role in it — the Trump deportation comment, me being from Iran, me looking the part and not shutting up,” he told The Post. “I’ve never experienced anything like this before.”
Following the contentious presidential election, America’s divisions have been on full display in a staggering array of situations and spaces — including airplanes.
That same month, prosecutors said a traveler attacked a Muslim airline employee, warning her that Trump “will get rid of all of you.”
And on a United Airlines flight just last month, a pilot gave a bizarre speech before takeoff — prompting dozens of concerned passengers to flee the plane.
Sadri said he was aware that there have been other headline-grabbing incidents on planes in recent months, but stressed that, in his case, he did not attack anyone.
He said that the officer who escorted him from the plane was “very nice” and he was put on another plane a short time later.
But following the incident, Sadri said, “Trump supporters went nuts.” He said he has gotten hundreds of messages on social media, including death threats.
Some people on Twitter have called him “despicable,” a “bully” and a “child molester” and told him he should go back to Iran.
“Anti-American doctor of Iranian descent, uses a child as a prop to attack the President of the country that he hates, the USA,” one person said.
Another commenter added: “American doesn’t want or need people like you. Just go back to Iran I hope ur clients realize u are anti-American.”
Sadri said American Airlines has since reached out to him to apologize, but to also explain that the flight attendant was following protocol. In its brief statement on the incident, the airline did not say whether it had reached out to the passenger it did not name.