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#BritishAirways a consistent case of racism and mistreatment of Black people?

British Airways is known more among Black people for its racist treatment and poor service. There have been hashtags calling for the boycott of the airline. Photo: Twitter/BritishAirways

On the 7th of July 2019, Nigerian poet, Dami Ajayi landed in Lagos from Heathrow aboard British Airways on flight BA75. The poet who had been working on his latest manuscript, and essay on the flight had stood up twice or thrice, to stretch his leg. The last time he stood up, was to make use of the aircraft’s lavatory. In that space of time, with the thought that his laptop was still in his bag in the empty middle seat that separated him from the person on the other seat, his laptop was gone.

British Airways has been on the news for various things including recently, compromising the details of roughly 500, 000 customers. British Airways’ customer relation record is reportedly one of the worst in the industry, especially in its treatment of its Black customers. There have been numerous complains lodged by disgruntled customers, but some of these seem to reoccur.

On the 12th of June 2019, Sangu Delle a Ghanaian entrepreneur and clean water activist was pulled over by British Airways staff for being on the Priority Customer queue. All other customers were White. In 2017, South African musical group Black Motion were the only two Black people in the business class. They were asked to move to economy for a White woman whose seat was broken. The duo was thrown off the plane.

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The response of British Airways to Ajayi’s complaint has been condescending and unsatisfying. The lack of concern for the intellectual property lost in the laptop has left a bad taste. There have been appeals to the British Airways Twitter account for the airline to deal with the case with the concern and seriousness it warrants. British Airways however have shown brutishness instead and refused to take responsibility for what happened.

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In a similar complaint of a missing laptop made by a White woman, the response by the British Airways was totally different. While Ajayi was told that the British Airways wasn’t responsible for what happened on their flight, conversely, the White woman received a totally warm and different response. The trivialization of the complaints of Ajayi has led to a wide calls from the public for British Airways to do the right thing and resolve the matter. In the past, there have been calls for Black people to boycott British Airways.

Singer and writer Priscilla Eyles wrote, “Interesting that British Airways think they have good diversity policies. I wonder how they explain the fact that their West African routes use the oldest airplanes and have staff who ignore and provoke black people, and then refuse to admit there’s a problem with racism.”

While Ajayi’s laptop is still missing and British Airways continues to dilly dally on the issue, Black people continue to experience terrible customer relations with the airline, and the harsh comments on social media are testament to the negative experiences Black people continue to have with the airline.

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