Ryanair bent over backwards for a racist and now people are demanding an apology

Video of an angry racist on a Ryanair flight and the Ryanair logo
Wilson Belshaw

A video has emerged of horrific racist abuse on a Ryanair flight. Beyond the disgusting attack, people are also disturbed by the flight crew’s response. Because they didn’t remove the racist from the flight; they moved the woman he was abusing. And the company still hasn’t apologised.

Hatred

The racist man in the video is angry because he doesn’t want to sit next to a black woman. Surrounded by passengers and flight crew, he says:

I don’t want to sit next to your [unclear] face. Your ugly fucking face.

In response to this, a member of staff asks the woman if she’d like to sit in another seat. She refuses, and the man shouts for her to be moved, saying “it’s only polite”. The man then proceeds to threaten her, saying:

I tell you this, if you don’t go to another seat, I’ll push you to another seat.

He jabs his finger towards the woman as he says this. The man in the seat behind leans forwards to physically prevent this and tells him to stop. It’s unclear where any member of the flight crew is at this point, so it’s left to passengers to deal with the situation. The man behind asks the racist to stop. He replies:

I will carry on… with this ugly, black bastard.

The racist once more jabs his finger at the woman, and the man behind again leans over a seat to come between them. While aggressive, the racist does not appear to make physical contact with the woman at any point in the video.

More passengers criticise the racist, and the flight attendant returns to ask him to calm down. One passenger stresses:

Throw him off the flight. Get rid of him.

There is no attempt to remove the man, and the woman asks to move. Passengers express shock at the turn of events, and the flight attendant returns to speak with the abusive and threatening man, giving him a polite warning. The racist responds:

Okay, I’m alright now.

Backlash

There’s been a strong backlash to the video:

There’s also been talk of a boycott:

Response

The airline has since issued a statement:

People pointed out that this wasn’t in any way an apology:

Ryanair has since claimed it can’t say anymore due to it being a police matter:

People took issue with this too:

Ryanair has also issued a statement to the BBC. It still doesn’t include an apology or an explanation of why the man wasn’t removed:

We operate strict guidelines for disruptive passengers and we will not tolerate unruly behaviour like this.

We will be taking this matter further and disruptive or abusive behaviour like this will result in passengers being banned from travel.

Hostile environment

In a further development, HuffPost has reported that the victim of the abuse was a member of the Windrush generation:

It’s sad that in 2018 racists feel able to publicly behave like this. It’s scandalous that Ryanair didn’t treat the incident as the criminal offence it obviously was. But sadly, it isn’t surprising.

Non-white Britons have endured a xenophobic Brexit campaign, the hostile environment, and racism at the very top of government. It’s no wonder things are going backwards. But as this incident shows, for every racist passenger or appeasing corporation, there are more people willing to stand up and fight for what’s right.

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Wilson Belshaw