There’s no shortage of stories of passengers behaving badly but this latest incident has probably got to be one of the worst we’ve heard about in a long time. On Friday morning, a male passenger onboard Ryanair flight FR15 from Barcelona to London Stansted launched into racist, expletive-laden tirade against a 77-year old woman – her crime? She was of Jamaican descent.
According to the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, the victim who has only been identified as Mrs Gayle moved from Jamaica to the United Kingdom after the Second World War to help rebuild the war-torn country. Her daughter says they had gone on holiday to Spain for a few days to help Mrs Gayle relax after the recent death of her longtime husband.
“I don’t want to sit next to you, you ugly fucking cunt,” the man can be heard shouting at Mrs Gayle in a video that was shot on a fellow passenger’s phone. A member of Ryanair cabin crew offers to find an alternative seat for Mrs Gayle who asks the man “what is wrong with you?”
He angrily snaps back: “I tell you what, if you don’t move to another seat, I’ll push you to another seat.” He continues: “Don’t talk to me in a fucking foreign language, you fucking ugly cow.” He had apparently become incensed because Mrs Gayle was slow to stand up when he arrived at his row.
This racist white man refused to sit next to an elderly black woman on a Ryanair flight.
He called her an "ugly black bastard" & threatened to push her to another seat if she didn't move to another seat.
Ryanair – DOES NOTHING!!!
UK twitter identify HIM!!!
RETWEET THIS! pic.twitter.com/70XNsvTZBg
— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) October 20, 2018
As other passengers attempt to intervene and ask the man to stop, he shouts: “I will carry on, this ugly black bastard.” A member of Ryanair cabin crew returns and again asks the man to calm down, before moving Mrs Gayle to an alternative seat.
Shockingly, the crew member then checks on the welfare of the man and ignores calls from other passengers to have the man booted from the flight. The whole incident happened during boarding, with the aircraft doors open yet it’s understood that crew members made no attempt to contact local enforcement.
It’s really important to point out that cabin crew have very little authority to reprimand or even restrain a disruptive passenger when an aircraft is on the ground – that’s the job of the police or security services. But how Ryanair allowed a clearly disruptive passenger to remain onboard, while ignoring an apparent crime is raising a lot of questions.
Chatter amongst Ryanair cabin crew is currently suggesting the company was focused on achieving an on-time departure – as such, the crew onboard the flight were tasked with defusing the situation and allowing the plane to take-off as quickly as possible. In the end, the flight arrived in Stansted 20 minutes late.
Statement: We are aware of this video and have reported this matter to Essex Police
— Ryanair (@Ryanair) October 21, 2018
Dealing properly with the incident in Barcelona would no doubt of led to other delays and even cancellations – costs that any airline, especially low-cost carriers, are at pains to avoid.
In a very short statement on its official Twitter account, Ryanair says it is “aware of this video and have reported this matter to Essex Police.” Although, how a British police force is meant to investigate an incident which happened in Spain isn’t entirely understood. A spokesperson for the agency says its working with Spanish authorities in an attempt to investigate the allegation.
The original video, uploaded by Twitter user @_SJPeace has been viewed nearly 1.5 million times, with many users saying they will boycott Ryanair over its handling of the incident.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.