EasyJet has launched an internal review after passengers on a flight from Gatwick to Spain reportedly staged a mutiny when cabin crew tried to have two Black men removed by police folowing a disagreement.
Witnesses say two men “huffed” at a crew member after she told them to put their shoes on for take off because they were sitting in an emergency exit row, according to the Daily Mail.
Armed police were summoned to the aircraft to order the pair to leave but video posted on social media shows other passengers objecting to the crew’s response and telling the two men to “sit down” and ignore the request.
On Twitter, passenger Luke Gayle said that a flight attendant had “called the police because a black boy huffed after she told him to put his feet under the seat.”
Mr Gayle said that it was “a humbling moment” when passengers told the men to sit back down, adding: “Who knows if this was a race thing. However, he and his 2 friends are the only black people on the flight.”
He also shared a video of the airline preparing to remove the men’s checked bags from the hold.
Thursday’s flight departed three hours late with new cabin crew, but with the two men still onboard.
Emergency exit rows must be kept clear of all potential obstacles, including bags, shoes and coats, and keeping shoes on until after take-off is advisable.
Under the Air Navigation Order 2016 it is an offence to disobey the commander (captain) or their crew.
EasyJet told the Mail that airline “does not discriminate against any individual” and that “there is nothing to suggest that discrimination played any part in the issue onboard.”
It said the cabin crew were replaced because the delay meant they would not have been able to complete their trip within working time limits.
“The primary responsibility of our crew is for the safety of everyone on board.
“An issue arose on the flight during taxi, the aircraft returned to stand and was met by airport police to resolve the issue before safely departing with all passengers onboard.
“Our crew must ensure that safety requirements are followed by all passengers and as part of their role must check prior to take off that everyone is compliant with these.
“This is particularly important for passengers seated in emergency exit rows where crew ensure there are no loose items during take-off.
“We are aware of the feedback from some customers onboard on how this was handled.
“We take feedback of this nature seriously and have been in touch with them to discuss their experience and assure them that we will review this internally.
“The safety and wellbeing of our customers and crew is our highest priority.”