A video that shows a passenger refusing to move out of a mother's assigned seat on a flight out of Vancouver has gone viral on social media.
The video shows a woman, who appears to be white, seated in the window seat of a three-seat configuration on a Flair Airlines flight from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to Calgary International Airport (YYC) on April 14.
In the video, a flight attendant can be heard telling the woman who is seated in the window seat that she isn't in the right spot. The flight attendant offers her the window seat in the same row but on the other side of the plane.
The three seats of the row in which the passenger was incorrectly seated were assigned to a Black woman travelling with her infant child and her mother-in-law.
When the mother asks the flight attendant, "Do you see the problem?" the flight attendant tells her twice: "You need to calm down." However, the mother did not raise her voice during the interaction. Airline staff also threaten to kick the family off the plane.
Eventually, other passengers move so that the party of three may sit together with a window seat on the other side of the plane while the woman sitting in the wrong place stays seated.
The mother comments on the irony of the fact that the woman would have had a window seat if she sat in her assigned seat but now other passengers have had to move to accommodate her.
The mother's husband created a TikTok that includes the video, which has been viewed upwards of 60,000 times and has also been shared on several other large accounts on multiple social media platforms.
The man uses the handle @adeolaalle on TikTok and comments on the situation in his video, asserting that his "wife and family were discriminated against." He explains that his family had confirmed the seats for the flight and were supposed to have the seats together, which included the window seat.
At first, his wife thought that the passenger had "made an honest mistake" because seating can be confusing on a plane. She then showed the woman her boarding pass that showed she was supposed to have the window seat in "2A."
When the woman refused to move after this, the mother flagged a flight attendant for assistance. After the woman continued to refuse to move, the mother began to film the altercation. At this point, her husband says that the woman "gives her the middle finger."
The man says the woman took the spot of a "nursing mother" with an infant and that his 67-year-old mother's "health challenges could have gone through the roof." He adds that his wife has only been in Canada for one year and this discrimination should not happen in 2023.
"How Flair Airlines handled this was very unprofessional. [They] threatened the victim," he said.
In a follow-up video, the man states that Flair Airlines offered his family a full refund for the flight but did not issue an apology.
Flair Airlines weighs in on incident on Vancouver flight
In an emailed statement, a Flair Airlines spokesperson told V.I.A. that the "safety and comfort of our passengers is the airlines' highest priority, and we want every passenger to have an enjoyable experience with Flair."
Flair is currently investigating the circumstances of the incident, passenger actions, and its staff response.
"We spoke directly to the passenger first to listen to her experience and concerns first hand, to offer our sincerest apologies for any distress, and to discuss ways the airline can remedy her concerns," the spokesperson said, adding that its staff is trained to de-escalate stressful boarding situations.
The passenger in 2A was asked to move multiple times to her assigned seat and refused. The flight attendants then decided to move other passengers to "de-escalate" the situation.
"The resolution taken for the flight was to seat the passenger in the window seat on the other side of the aircraft — the same row and seat, just on the other side of the plane. Subsequently, a representative of the airline apologized to the aggrieved passenger on the phone."
Flair Airlines has issued a full refund to the passengers' credit card for the cost of the flight and any extras purchased for both seats.
@adeolaalle Racism and Discrimination on flair airline from Vancouver to Calgary @Globalnews.ca @CTVNews #racism #racismincanada #discrimination ♬ original sound - Scholars Pivot on YouTube