Ryanair is under fire for the way its flight attendants handled a passenger’s racist tirade attacking the woman seated next to him on a recent flight.
According to the Washington Post, passengers were boarding a flight from Barcelona to London when a man began yelling at the woman who was about to take the seat next to him.
David Lawrence, who captured the incident in a video which has now gone viral, told the Post that the woman had boarded the plane in a wheelchair, and shortly after she was seated the man began yelling at her. The woman’s daughter, who was seated separately, quickly confronted the man to stand up for her mom, Lawrence says.
“She said, ‘Who are you talking to? Don’t shout at her. That’s my mother; she’s disabled,’ ” Lawrence recalled. “He then was saying, ‘I don’t care.’”
In the video, the man goes on a rant, screaming that the woman is “sickly,” “fat,” and ugly,” and says he hopes someone sits in the middle seat between the two of them.
When the flight attendant asks the woman if she would like to sit elsewhere, the man responds by screaming, “Put her to another seat!” before turning to the woman. “I tell you this. If you don’t go to another seat, I’ll put you to another seat!”
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The woman then appears to respond to him, something that is inaudible in the video, to which the man screams, “Don’t talk to me in a f—ing foreign language, you stupid ugly cow!”
Other passengers on the plane attempt to calm the man down, with one man even hovering over from the row behind and placing his hands between them to tell the man to stop bullying her, but this appears to anger the man more.
“I will carry on as long as I can with this ugly black bastard,” he screams.
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“There’s no need for that at all,” the other passenger says. “Just stop. It’s really easy to close your mouth.”
While recording the video, Lawrence can be heard saying, “Throw him off the flight. Throw him off the flight. Get rid of him!”
Eventually, the woman asked to move rows and sit next to her daughter, and the man who had accosted her suffered no repercussions, instead, by default enjoying “extra leg room,” according to Lawrence, with a row to himself.
RyanAir tells PEOPLE in a statement that they “have reported this to the police in Essex and as this is now a police matter, we cannot comment further.”
“Essex Police takes prejudice-based crime seriously and we want all incidents to be reported,” the police told the New York Times in a statement. “We are working closely with Ryanair and the Spanish authorities on the investigation.”
However, the airline’s response sparked outrage on social media, with some lawmakers, like MP David Lammy of England’s Labour Party, calling for a boycott of the airline.
“Ok boycott @Ryanair if they think it’s ok for a racist man to abuse an elderly black woman and remain on the plane,” he wrote. “It’s 63 years since Rosa Parks said ‘No’ to sitting on the back of the bus and we ain’t going back.”
The woman’s daughter told Huffington Post UK that she and her mother, who had moved to the U.K. from Jamaica in the 1960s, had traveled to Barcelona to commemorate a year since her father’s death, and she was so hurt by the way she was treated.
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“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,” she said.
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