Airline Ryanair is facing backlash online for the way it handled a racist passenger lobbing insults at the Black woman sitting next to him. After the man called the elderly woman an “ugly Black bastard,” he was allowed to stay in his seat on the flight, and she was moved to another seat on the plane.
The three-minute video, captured on a Oct. 19 flight from Barcelona to London, begins mid-argument as another passenger, who has since been identified as the woman’s daughter, is chastising the white man for insulting her mother. A flight attendant speaks to the man, as he says he can’t leave his window seat and move into the aisle unless the woman, who has been identified by HuffPost UK as 77-year-old Mrs. Gayle, moves first.
The white man then says that if Gayle doesn’t move seats, then he’ll push her into another seat and tells her to stop talking “to me in a fucking foreign language you stupid ugly cow.” Another passenger in the row behind them attempts to create space between them as the man says then calls Gayle an “ugly Black bastard.”
THIS IS THE Ryanair passenger that was ALLOWED to racially and physically abuse an elderly woman and then WALK AWAY…Posted by David Lawrence on Friday, October 19, 2018
The attendant comes back to the man and tells him he’s being rude and needs to calm down, before Gayle says she wants to sit by her daughter and that the man should be kicked out. The passenger recording the video, David Lawrence, is heard in the background saying Gayle needs to be moved away from the man before suggesting that the man be booted from the flight. Gayle then leaves her seat and walks toward the back of the plane.
“I’m alright now that she’s gone. She has to get out…” the man is heard telling the flight attendant after the woman moves from her seat.
“He continually threatened physical violence and racial slurs and RYANAIR did nothing!” Lawrence wrote in the description of the video, which has garnered nearly 600,000 views on YouTube. “The elderly lady was moved to another seat whilst the man was allowed to continue his journey with extra room and on board service.”
On Facebook, the video has garnered another 4 million views. Lawrence told the Washington Post that he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He decided to upload the video out of frustration for the situation, and felt people needed to know what happened. Lawrence recalled that Gayle’s daughter said her mother was disabled, and that Gayle had boarded the plane in a wheelchair. However, the man reportedly said he didn’t care.
According to HuffPost UK, Gayle and her daughter were returning from a holiday trip marking the anniversary of Gayle’s husband’s death. Gayle’s daughter said that the two were married for 50 years, and her mother had been feeling down and depressed.
Gayle’s daughter, who was seen at the beginning of the video lecturing the man, told the publication she’ll never fly Ryanair again, and that she believes a Black passenger would have had the cops called on them and been kicked off the flight had they acted in the way the white man had.
Across the internet, the response to Ryanair’s lack of action has been critically negative. Gayle’s daughter said flight attendants told her they didn’t hear racist slurs from the man, but Ryanair has tweeted that it was “aware of this video and have reported this matter to Essex Police.”
Statement: We are aware of this video and have reported this matter to Essex Police— Ryanair (@Ryanair) October 21, 2018
In response, many have criticized the airline that it didn’t do enough to protect the woman from the man’s abuse, and continues to fail her in its response following the incident. Some are calling for the airline’s boycott.
You need to compensate the lady. You have not done enough by simply shifting the responsibility to the police.— SimiB (@Siimzo) October 21, 2018
I shall be writing to @Ryanair and the Aviation Minister Liz Sugg to ask what they’ve done about this. Clearly committed criminal offences. Racially Aggravated s.39 and or racially Aggravated s.5 Public Order. Needs to be charged and fast. https://t.co/yjJs8JdiCZ— Karl Turner MP (@KarlTurnerMP) October 21, 2018
So essentially #Ryanair moved this lady to accommodate the racist views of the man. Welcome back to the 1930s.— Kayleigh (@kayleighm5297) October 20, 2018
Ok boycott @Ryanair if they think it’s ok for a racist man to abuse an elderly black woman and remain on the plane. It’s 63 years since Rosa Parks said “No “ to sitting on the back of the Bus and we ain’t going back. https://t.co/IYczabgjMJ— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) October 21, 2018
Surely Ryanair should be contacting this woman and apologising for the racist abuse she suffered? https://t.co/9MSh5Jqbks— Diane Abbott MP (@HackneyAbbott) October 22, 2018
Others have questioned if the passengers on the flight did enough to stop the man from abusing the woman seated next to him.
If you were on that Ryan Air flight and heard the abuse directed at the woman would you have challenged the man who was shouting at her?— Dan Walker (@mrdanwalker) October 22, 2018
Too many on that Ryanair flight did nothing, empowering that guy to continue with his racist abuse. They could have demanded he be removed, put more pressure on the flight staff. Happens way too often, people turning a blind eye then claiming to be disgusted by racism.— Darren Lewis (@MirrorDarren) October 22, 2018
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Gayle’s daughter says she doesn’t know what she wants done to resolve the situation, but at least wants an apology to her mother for the way that she was treated. Ryanair, however, has told the Post that it will be “taking this matter further” by banning passengers who exhibit disruptive or abusive behavior.
“The underlying reason behind the man’s abusive behaviour comes down to the fact that my mum is a Black woman and he didn’t want her sitting next to him—he says it in the video,” the daughter told HuffPost UK. “Mum’s really feeling upset and very stressed about this situation, on top of the grief that 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.”