A video of a racist encounter between a white male passenger and a black woman on an airplane went viral online over the weekend after a bystander posted it to YouTube. The clip, which is just under three and a half minutes, shows the man berating the woman, calling her vile names and refusing to allow her to sit next to him. When the man begins aggressively jabbing his finger at the woman, another passenger has to physically intervene to prevent him from touching her.
The woman in the video has been identified as 77-year-old Delsie Gayle from east London who was travelling home from Barcelona with her daughter Carol. The holiday was a trip meant to lift Gayle’s spirits as it marks about one year since her husband of over 50 years passed away.
After a two days, during which the video gained international attention, Delsie and Carol spoke to ITV News and the channel’s morning show This Morning about the harrowing experience.
“[I feel] very low. I was so frightened,” Gayle told This Morning. She and Carol both added that the reaction of the airline, Ryanair, has been deeply disappointing and that they wouldn’t fly with them again. The company issued a one-line statement on Twitter the day after the video was posted.
Statement: We are aware of this video and have reported this matter to Essex Police
— Ryanair (@Ryanair) October 21, 2018
“They could be giving [a flight] away for two pence — never,” Carol said. According to the duo, the airline has not offered them even a private apology, much less addressed the issue publicly beyond the initial statement.
After a video of 77-year-old Delsie Gayle receiving horrific racial abuse on a Ryanair flight this weekend went viral, Delsie and her daughter Carol open up about the ordeal and their disappointment at how the airline has handled the incident pic.twitter.com/OqTGn8ZCBA
— This Morning (@thismorning) October 23, 2018
“A public apology to mum is what we would like,” Carol said. “And staff to get some training to deal with situations like this again.”
On ITV News, Delsie said that she travels a lot, but she has never been spoken to in that way.
“I was shocked because I travel a lot and never– Nobody ever say those words to me,” she said. “I travel a lot, I go to Canada, I go every year … and no one has ever said that word to me.”
— ITV News (@itvnews) October 23, 2018
“I feel very low that he paid a fare to go on holiday and I paid mine so why does he abuse me for that due to the colour of my skin?” Delsie added.
David Lawrence, the passenger who took the viral video, has also spoken out to corroborate the Gayles’ interpretation of the story. He told Sky News in the U.K. that nothing was done on the flight to rectify the situation or make it up to Delsie.
“Ryanair wasn’t around. Eventually someone came down and moved the woman from her seat and placed her further back, leaving the man sitting by himself,” Lawrence said. “That’s the worst [thing about it]. It was a no-brainer — he should have been moved. He should have been taken off the flight all together, he should have been arrested … Nothing was done.”
“He should have been ejected off the flight”: David Lawrence, who filmed the incident in which a woman was racially abused on a Ryanair flight, describes his shock at what happened https://t.co/ruMwMqBFnt pic.twitter.com/tKTyes128j
— ITV News (@itvnews) October 21, 2018
Lawrence’s anger at the situation was reflected by those who viewed the video online as well, with many taking to Twitter to call out the airline.
Retrospective action after the video release. Pathetic handling of a bad situation. Cheap airline and clearly cheap morals. Don’t even have the decency to try to offer a worthwhile apology.
— Mickeyleon 🇬🇧🇪🇺 (@clayblack75) October 22, 2018
As a frequent traveller with Ryanair when going to Italy as a black person I’m absolutely disgusted horrified & angry to hear this innocent person being racial abused. Please sort this out otherwise I’d never use your airline ever again that lass deserves much better #Ryanair
— john_NUFC42 (@john_nufc42) October 22, 2018
I’d say your staff were witnesses to a hate crime and allowed it to proceed. Fear of management response to ejecting a passenger probably played a part. Fearful, badly trained and poorly paid staff – you are a disgraceful company, let alone airline.
— Graham Bentley (@GrahamBentley) October 22, 2018
… on how to handle any similar situation in the future. Ryanair does not tolerate harassment and we hope to provide a safe environment where all passengers feel welcome.” 2/2
— Allison (@allison1865) October 22, 2018
The latest update from Essex Police is that they have identified the man and have passed the information onto Spanish authorities who would have had jurisdiction over the plane at the time of the incident before take-off.
We have worked to identify both parties involved in the @Ryanair incident and passed this information to the Spanish authorities, who are leading on this investigation.
Our officers will continue to provide assistance where necessary throughout the course of this case. pic.twitter.com/mBb2q5T3cE
— Essex Police (@EssexPoliceUK) October 23, 2018