A NIGERIAN based in Canada Adeola Adeyemi, has shared a recent experience with an airline where his wife suffered racial discrimination during a trip from Vancouver to Calgary.
According to Adeyemi, his mother, wife and their 12 weeks old baby had booked the trip with Flair Airlines and selected their preferred seats next to each other, which was confirmed in their boarding passes after check-in.
However, onboard the aircraft on Friday, April 14, they discovered that one of the seats (2A) located by the window was already occupied by a lone white female traveller who turned down appeals to vacate the seat.
“This woman took my wife’s seat, refused to get up when approached, gave my wife the middle finger afterwards, and staff of Flair Airlines did nothing.
“They even threatened to eject my wife, mother and 12 weeks old baby from the plane for demanding to seat on a seat they paid for! This is injustice and no other explanation makes sense other than the fact that it was discriminatory,” Adeyemi said.
A video taken during the incident was also shared on Twitter and one of the female flight attendants could be heard saying: “If you want us to help you, you need to calm down”, even though Adeyemi’s wife spoke softly.
Checks by The ICIR showed that a traveller can pick a favourite spot on a Flair Airplane and sit together in groups at an extra fee per passenger, depending on the seat option they choose.
The options include standard ($10-$20 + tax), front ($15-$25 + tax), extra legroom ($25-$45 + tax) and emergency boarding ($35-$45 + tax).
“If you do not want to pay to select your seat, you will be assigned a seat at random at no cost,” the airline said on its website.
Adeyemi said he booked the flight in advance and got a basic bundle to ensure that his family was comfortable, as he would not be embarking on the trip with them.
“I was on the phone with her and hearing her being subjected to this type of hassle got me very, very agitated,” he said.
Adeyemi said he had written to Flair Airlines but they were yet to respond.
Reacting to the incident, some Nigerians have called out the airline and threatened to boycott their services over the perceived racist treatment.
Ayinke Adefemi said she once had a similar experience on a Qatar flight to Dubai and quietly located the most convenient and vacant seat on the AC and sat.
“When a cabin crew arrived I showed them my pass and told her someone had also refused to leave my seat. It took 5 minutes but they booted her out,” Adefemi said.