A TikTok taken on a Flair Airlines flight has sparked racism and discrimination allegations, after airline staff threatened to remove a Black mother from a recent flight.
Busayo Alle, a Nigerian-Canadian, was flying with her 12-week-old baby and her mother-in-law, on what was supposed to be an easy 1-hour and 25-minute flight from Vancouver to Calgary. Upon boarding the aircraft, she was surprised to find another woman, who is white, sitting in the seat. When requesting help from the airline, Busayo was further discouraged when staff asked her to move instead.
“If you flip the script, what would have happened?” asks Busayo’s husband, Adeola Alle, in his viral TikTok video titled “Racism in Canada.”
“If a Black person was sitting on that seat, they would not have hesitated to kick them off the flight.”
It's a situation in which he says "my wife and family were discriminated against,” and also resulted in a threat from the airline staff after Busayo pleaded for her seat.
“If you [don’t] calm down, we need to get you out of this aircraft,” said a Flair Airlines flight attendant to Busayo.
The story is sparking conversation on TikTok about racism in Canada, and its prevalence in our communities.
“There’s so much racism in Canada but it’s covered and never talked about like other countries,” commented @cruel_gina.
"I'm sorry you had to go through this, racism is real in Canada," commented another user, @yeyewandeeo. "I'm so over it."
The trio initially boarded Flair Airlines flight F8804 on April 14, and were expecting to sit together in their already purchased seats. At first, the mother thought this was an honest mistake. She asked the person to move, as seat 2A was her assigned seat on the boarding pass. She was surprised to hear the person simply say “no” and refuse to move.
At this point, the family decided to turn to the flight attendants for assistance, but were surprised by the reaction.
“My wife kept her cool, but to our dismay — she was asked to move,” noted Adeola.
“They sounded very condescending. We just needed you to do the right thing — this is the seat she paid for.”
The video shows Busayo wondering what the problem was — all she wanted was to sit next to her young daughter and mother-in-law in the seat she paid for. As the interaction prolongs, the flight attendants can be heard asking her to “calm down,” to which Busayo responds, “I can’t be calm after what you just did.”
In addition, Adeola recounts that the other passenger involved also gave his wife the middle finger.
In the end, the Alle family were able to sit together, after other passengers offered their seats. However, the interaction left a sour taste for Busayo as there was absolutely no explanation as to why she was asked to move, and then even threatened to be kicked off the flight after voicing her frustration.
“We paid for this flight and you didn’t help me,” said Busayo to the flight staff.
Yahoo Canada reached out to Flair Airlines regarding the situation, and they noted that they are still investigating the circumstances of the incident — including each passenger's actions and their staff’s response.
“Flair Airlines staff did ask the passenger in 2A to move to her assigned seat, but she refused multiple times. Unfortunately, this caused the situation to escalate,” said a Flair Airlines spokesperson to Yahoo Canada.
The airline notes that their flight attendants did offer a solution and attempted to deescalate 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,” said the spokesperson for Flair.
Although the airline did not address any of the discrimination allegations, they did note that the safety and comfort of their passengers is the airline’s highest priority.
“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,” said the spokesperson.
Outrage over 'Racism in Canada'
The Alle family moved to Canada about a year ago from Nigeria. They were shocked that matters would be handled like this in this day and age, and believe it’s important to talk about these matters publicly to ensure that they do not happen again.
“This is 2023 and this is Canada. I did not expect that this would be happening,” said Adeola. “It’s unfortunate. How Flair Airlines handled this was very unprofessional.”
They believe this is a cause of racism as there is simply no other explanation as to why Alle’s family was not supported by the airline in this difficult situation.
The viral video also caused a lot of conversation amongst TikTok users in the comments, who are shining light on racism in Canada and accusing Flair Airlines of discrimination.
“I live in Canada and the racism here is insane! nobody acknowledges it!!” commented @winniedahbarbie.
Others are standing up for the woman, empathizing with her pain and embarrassment as seen in the video.
“The way those flight attendants are talking to this woman is infuriating,” commented @nessasstp.
“You can literally feel the pain in her voice. So sorry that this happened to your family” commented @stillnessjay.
"Their tactic is to keep asking to calm down to get you agitated to justify calling the police and get you thrown out of the plane," commented @libyancanadian.
Although the Alle family had reached out to Flair Airlines for an apology before, they said that they did not hear back from the airline until after the video went viral. A follow up video posted by the husband explains how Flair Airlines only contacted his wife back after they were reached out to by a media station.
The airline tried to mend the situation by offering a full refund to all the Alles.
“A representative of the airline apologized to the aggrieved passenger on the phone. A full refund has been issued to the passengers' credit card for the cost of the flight and any extras purchased for both seats," said a Flair Airlines spokesperson.
For the Alle family, this isn’t about money. They are asking for a formal and public apology and fair treatment of all passengers moving forward. They hope their children do not have to face a situation like this again.
“Injustice happened, and they should have acted better. I want a formal apology,” said Adeola.
Yahoo Canada has reached out to the Alle family to see how this event continues to unfold, and will update this article accordingly. For now, the Alle family is asking that the airline simply apologize and understand “how to treat everybody equally and fairly.”