A quarrel on board a Virgin Atlantic Flight from London to Shanghai made waves online after a woman came forward how she was verbally abused (incl racial slurs) and the crew refused to take any action.
We have published plenty of stories that showed bad behavior of Chinese tourists and I feel compelled to also write about this incident for multiple reasons. One is that it shows what disgusting behavior other nationalities exhibit against Chinese nationals, the other thing being that as a British airline where verbal abuse against staff or anybody is usually struck down immediately absolutely nothing has been done against the guy who attacked the woman while the plane was still on the ground. He should have been escorted off the plane as his unprovoked tirade posed a security risk.
The story broke through Weibo and other Social Media channels and then eventually being picked up by China Daily (access here).
Virgin Atlantic said today it was investigating an alleged incident on a recent flight from London to Shanghai when a Chinese woman said she was abused by a fellow passenger. …
In a statement passed to China Daily by spokesman Jason Betts, Virgin Atlantic said, “We are aware of an issue on a recent flight and would like to reassure the customer that we are taking her claims seriously and are fully investigating the circumstances. The safety and wellbeing of our passengers is always our priority, and we will continue to speak directly with the customer to ensure the situation is resolved.”
In a later statement, provided by spokeswoman Louise Holding, Virgin Atlantic said, “we are aware of the concern around the alleged incident on flight VS250. We are a multinational company with zero tolerance of racism.” The carrier declined to provide any further details, adding “this is an ongoing investigation.”
The report, about the Chinese female passenger, on the Virgin flight VS250 on March 1, 2016, who said she was insulted by a Caucasian male passenger and subsequently allegedly ignored by a flight attendant, went viral on social media in China. By late Thursday Beijing time, over 5 million users had read about the issue on the Chinese social media site Weibo, which is similar to a hybrid of Twitter and Facebook.
Some translated passages:
I was busy with my headphones when all of a sudden a large built Caucasian man in his fifties approached me from behind, seated two rows in the back. He pointed his finger at me and yelled: “You f*****g Chinese pig!!! Get the f*** out of here!”
The female passenger was initially shocked by the attack, but then responded harshly: “What did you say to me?”
The man repeated his verbal attacks and added several more with his fists in a threatening pose. She then went looking for a Flight Attendant to help.
Another British passenger and his Chinese wife tried to prevent the man from harassing her, but the man threatened them as well not to interfere. Meanwhile, the flight attendants stood by idle, doing nothing to diffuse the situation or restrain the man.
Eventually, one of the flight attendants did respond, but after conversing with the man, he actually told the woman to ‘respect the other passengers and stop the fighting’, otherwise she would be thrown off the flight.
“The man insulted me first, and it was him that wouldn’t stop cursing, am I supposed to not say a single word? Why should I have to get off the plane? I demand that he apologize to me!”.
Later, the flight attendant told the lady that the man that was threatening her was ‘mentally ill’. The flight attendant offered to transfer the man to a different seat; however this never happened during the entire flight.
The airline later responded with a letter to the passenger giving her lip service and a completely useless form reply.
I can’t understand how the crew did not take immediate action to remove the man from the flight given his threatening and mentally unstable behavior. This was a completely unprovoked attack on another passenger, given the law in the United Kingdom the woman could probably even press charges against him.
The woman should definitely lodge another complaint with the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK (accessible here). The best course of action would have been to have him arrested upon arrival in Shanghai and let him see how fun it is to deal with the police in China. He would have probably been denied entry and sent right back to London on the same plane.