Canadians across the country are threatening to boycott Air Canada after a British resident travelling to Toronto was verbally and racially abused at the check-in counter, and staff failed to adequately intervene. Now Air Canada's racist incident has passengers threatening to boycott the airline.
In a tweet shared by her sister, 28-year-old Sonamjeet Narwan says she was waiting in line at the check-in counter at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Virginia on Tuesday. When a woman cut in line in front of her, Narwan says she politely asked her to move back. It was then that the woman rolled her eyes at Narwan, and told her to go back to where she came from.
Speaking to Global News, Narwan said “She said she knew my type. When I asked her what she meant by that, she said, ‘You’re a 9/11 bloodsucker.’”
According to Narwan, the woman’s comments were heard by several Air Canada employees, but nobody was sympathetic.
“For me to have flagged not one but numerous Air Canada members of staff that I was at the end of racist remarks and for them to hear what I had to say but then not act upon that, they basically made me feel like I was pestering them,” she explained.
Narwan said that she also requested that the woman be banned from the same flight as her, but employees were not able to help her. Speaking of the woman, Narwan said “She had her arms folded stridently, and she was staring me down with an antagonizing smirk. I asked her to stop staring at me, and she declined this request."
When she reported the abuse to the police, Narwan was told that, as there was no physical assault or threat of violence, it was the airline’s call to decide if the woman would be allowed to board. Air Canada confirmed police were involved but no further action was taken.
According to Narwan, Air Canada staff agreed that the abuse was ‘despicable’ and ‘clearly racist,’ but said it was not illegal and therefore the passenger would be allowed to fly. Narwan was offered an alternative flight, which she refused. Instead, Narwan accepted a new seat in business class.
Shortly after the incident, Sonamjeet’s sister, Gurpreet Narwan, tweeted Air Canada for a response on the matter. It took several hours to reply to Gurpreet's complaint, which caused many Twitter users to heavily criticize the airline. A number of Twitter users agreed that they would be boycotting Air Canada in future, due to their poor handling of this incident.
In a statement to Narcity, Air Canada said: "We are aware of this incident. There was an altercation in the line-up between two customers at Reagan National airport in Washington on June 25. Police attended the scene and after investigating took no action. The flight, operated by SkyRegional, was boarded. On board, our crew, who had been notified of an incident at the airport, could see the customer was upset. They upgraded her to Business Class and checked on her regularly during the flight. Our policy, due to privacy laws and internal procedures, is to deal directly with our customers. Our customer relations team will be in contact with the customer."*
*Editor's Note: This story has been updated.