RyanAir criticized for lacking response to racist passenger

David Lawrence/YouTube Remix by Samantha Grasso

Airline criticized for the way it handled racist passenger yelling slurs at elderly Black woman

Many say the airline didn't do enough to protect the abused passenger.


Samantha Grasso


Posted on Oct 22, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 3:33 am CDT

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.”


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.”

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.

Others have questioned if the passengers on the flight did enough to stop the man from abusing the woman seated next to him.


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.”

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*First Published: Oct 22, 2018, 10:33 am CDT