Ryanair criticised for reaction to racist tirade against elderly woman

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Lauren Hall

Ryanair is facing criticism for the way it handled an incident on a flight in which a woman, who is reportedly from the Windrush generation, was racially abused.

A man, filmed by a fellow passenger on the flight, can be heard calling an elderly woman an "ugly black b******" and and shouting “don’t talk to me in a foreign language you stupid ugly cow”.

The victim told ITV News: "I am so depressed. I've just lost my husband and now I have to go through this."

The woman's daughter told Huff Post UK she had taken her mother on a trip to "raise her spirits" as it is nearly one year since the death of her husband of more than 50 years.

“The underlying reason behind the man’s abusive behaviour comes down to the fact that my mum is a black woman and he didn’t want her sitting next to him - he says it in the video,” she said.

The footage was recorded on October 19 on Ryanair flight FR015 from Barcelona to London Stansted by UK resident David Lawrence, who uploaded it to social media.

It shows the man shouting at the woman to move seats while her daughter tries to stand up to him, telling him her mother is disabled.

He replies: “I don’t care whether she’s f****** disabled or not – if I tell her to get out she gets out.”

Ryanair said the matter had been reported to police, adding: "As this is now a police matter, we cannot comment further.”

Mr Lawrence, who filmed the footage, said he was shocked by what he witnessed, including the reaction of Ryanair staff and other passengers.

"I became very distressed because I'm filming this and I'm looking at the other passengers wondering who's going to step in and say something because you have two females being abused by this male," Mr Lawrence said.

He said he filmed the incident because people "needed to see" what happened.

He said the man should have been removed from the flight and that Ryanair should have responded sooner to what happened.

"The film was posted two days ago and it's only now that they're responding which is absolutely unacceptable," he said.

A number of politicians have voiced their concern at Ryanair’s apparent lack of action, along with scores of members of the public on social media.

During the tirade the man calls the woman “an ugly cow” and tells staff to move the woman to another seat, adding: “if you don’t go to another seat I’ll push you to another seat”.

Staff on the flight seemed to do little to silence the man during the footage, leaving a passenger in the row behind to try and deal with the situation.

The cabin crew can be heard to say: “Don’t be so rude, you have to calm down” while other passengers call for the man to be thrown off the flight.

The victims's daughter said she believed if a black person had behaved in the same way they would have been thrown off the flight immediately. Credit: David Lawrence

The woman's daughter said she believed if a black person had behaved in the same way they would have been thrown off the flight immediately.

She said: “I know that if I was behaving like he was or any other black person for that matter, police would have been called and we would have been kicked off the flight.”

The woman said that when she had complained to cabin crew they denied hearing any racial slurs and they told her to ring customer services on Monday.

The victim reportedly moved to the UK from Jamaica in the 1960s.