Virgin Atlantic feels pressure of Chinese social media following racist incident

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

virgin atlantic planeA Chinese woman was insulted by a passenger and ignored by flight attendants on a flight from London to Shanghai.

The woman, who only revealed her surname as "Yu" said that on March 1, while on board Virgin Atlantic flight VS250, she was insulted by a Caucasian male passenger and that her complaints were subsequently ignored by flight attendants. She posted her claim on the Internet, and the post went viral on Chinese social media.

"It was the first time I've experienced racism for being Chinese," she said, mentioning that she was alone at the time and returning to Shanghai after a trip to the U.K.. "I did nothing to that white man. But he came directly towards me from his seat and said, 'You f*cking Chinese pig! Get the f*ck out of here!'" Yu said the man looked like he was in his 50's. Due to the repetitive verbal abuse, other passengers got involved. "One British man and his Chinese wife tried to stop him, but he threatened them also," Yu said.

To her surprise, a male flight attendant also threatened her. "The attendant whispered to the man who'd abused me then walked up to me and scolded me, asking me not to fight with the man and to respect other passengers, otherwise he would remove me from the plane." Yu said that when she later asked for the attendant's name, she was told it was Nathan Smith. However, she believes it may be a false name.

She posted a copy of a letter that was sent to the Chinese aviation authorities on the massive micro-blogging site, Weibo, with upwards of seven million views so far.

Since then the airline has been faced with a genuine “social media storm” in China, with its Facebook and Weibo pages bombarded with messages slamming it for allowing the incident to take place and its reaction.

A standard response has been posted by the airline saying, “We are aware of this incident and would like to reassure you that the safety and wellbeing of customers is always our priority, and we are taking these allegations seriously. Our customer relations team is in direct contact with the customer to ensure the situation is resolved.”




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