AirTran Airways is defending its decision to deny boarding to nine Muslims after passengers on a New Year's Day flight from Washington to Orlando, Fla., reported hearing suspicious comments from members of the group. Kashif Irfan and his extended family were removed from the flight and questioned by FBI agents, who subsequently cleared them of any wrongdoing. But the pilot refused to take off with the group, forcing them to make alternative flight arrangements at their own expense. "For us, it just highlights that security is everybody's responsibility," Howe said. A TSA spokesperson defended AirTran's handling of the situation: "Someone heard something that was inappropriate, and then the airline decided to act on it. We certainly support [the pilot's] call to do that."