Airline apparently did not remove passenger who abused woman on flight
Ryanair has referred a racist incident on one of its flights to Essex police, after facing criticism that it did little to prevent a male passenger inflicting a tirade of racist abuse on a 77-year-old woman.
The airline apparently did not remove the passenger from the flight from Barcelona, instead moving the woman from her seat.
The man was filmed by a fellow passenger calling the woman an “ugly black bastard”, and shouting “don’t talk to me in a foreign language” when she spoke to him in English with a Jamaican accent.
UK resident David Lawrence filmed the incident, which happened on Friday on Ryanair flight FR015 from Barcelona to London Stansted, and shared it on social media, resulting in a barrage of criticism of the airline’s handling of the incident.
The video shows the man shouting at the woman to move seats, while her daughter angrily tells him her mother is disabled which is why she is moving slowly.
He can be heard shouting: “I don’t care whether she’s fucking disabled or not – if I tell her to get out she gets out.”
The man proceeds to tell staff to move the woman to another seat, adding: “If you don’t go to another seat I’ll push you to another seat.”
In the footage, cabin crew appear to be doing little initially to stop the man’s tirade, with a passenger in the row behind him telling him to stop the abuse. Then a cabin crew member can be heard saying to the man: “Don’t be so rude, you have to calm down,” while other passengers call for the man to be thrown off the flight.
The woman can be heard telling the man he stinks and needs a wash, before asking to be moved so she can sit next to her daughter.
The woman’s 53-year-old daughter told the Huffington Post that they were returning from a holiday designed to cheer her mother up, a year after the death of her father.
The argument started because her mother – a member of the Windrush generation who came to the UK in the 1960s – has arthritis so it took her some time to move out of the way so the man could reach the window seat.
“I know that if I was behaving like he was, or any other black person for that matter, police would have been called and we would have been kicked off the flight,” she said.
“Mum’s really feeling upset and very stressed about this situation, on top of the grief she’s already experiencing. As for me, I’m upset about the whole thing too – the fact that the passenger wasn’t taken off the plane and how the situation was dealt with,” she said.
She added that cabin crew denied hearing racist slurs and told her to ring customer services on Monday.
The Labour MP for East Hull and shadow attorney general, Karl Turner, tweeted: “He should have been removed from the flight and handed over to the police.
“We assume the aircraft was in the UK. I fully expect Ryanair to confirm the situation if in fact it was their flight.”
The MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde, Stuart McMillan, tweeted: “This is really appalling Ryanair. You will know the identity of the man and the level of training given to your staff.”
His fellow SNP politician Margaret Ferrier said: “Just watched the shocking footage on a Ryanair aircraft, utterly disgusting. Racist male passenger should have been put off flight before it departed. Flight attendant incapable of responding appropriately. However, well done to passenger with black T-shirt that intervened – hero.”
The budget airline tweeted on Sunday that it had seen the footage and reported the incident to Essex police. It added: “As this is now a police matter, we cannot comment further.”
A spokeswoman for Essex police said: “This incident, which we were made aware of this morning, is believed to have taken place on a plane at Barcelona airport. Essex police takes prejudice-based crime seriously and we want all incidents to be reported.
“We are working closely with Ryanair and the Spanish authorities on the investigation.”