OFFICIALS say an 18-month-old girl was mistakenly pulled off a JetBlue flight before it left Fort Lauderdale because airline employees thought her name was on the U.S. no-fly list.
The child's parents told ABC television network affiliate WPBF they believe they were targeted because they are of Middle Eastern descent and the mother wears a hijab.
"We were put on display like a circus act because my wife wears a hijab," the baby's father told the network.
An airline employee boarded the Newark, New Jersey-bound flight before it departed Tuesday evening, telling the family their toddler was on the federal list that includes thousands of known or suspected terrorists.
JetBlue on Thursday blamed a computer glitch, saying employees followed proper protocol. The U.S. Transportation Security Administration says the girl never was flagged by the agency.
A statement read: "We are investigating this particular incident. We believe this was a computer glitch. Our crew members followed the appropriate protocols, and we apologise to the family involved in this unfortunate circumstance.
"JetBlue takes all security concerns very seriously and the safety of all of our customers and crew members is our number one priority."
The family was cleared to reboard. But they declined, saying they were too embarrassed.