Flybe Responds To Amsterdam Denied Boarding Drama

Flybe have responded to the widespread criticism over their handling of an incident at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport last weekend. The incident, in which a group of women were denied boarding, has seen Flybe accused of racist conduct. However, the airline says the reports were skewed, and deny any wrongdoing in their actions.

Flybe have issued a response to the weekend’s boarding drama. Photo: Wikimedia

A group of young women were heading back to the UK on their 18:30 scheduled flight when an argument with the gate agent saw them denied boarding. Following a series of viral Tweets from their friend in the UK, the story has been hitting the headlines with accusations of racial profiling by Flybe.

However, the Exeter based carrier, who has recently been bought out by a consortium led by Virgin Atlantic, says that the videos were taken out of context. They say that at no point was the gate agent’s conduct intended to personally insult any passenger.

What happened?

While the details of the exact turn of events are sketchy, it appears that Flybe’s BE110 flight from Amsterdam Schiphol to Birmingham was delayed in leaving the Netherlands. Operated by a De Havilland Dash 8 Q400, the flight was scheduled to leave at 18:30 on Sunday 30th June.

Flybe BE110
Flybe flight BE110 is only just over an hour long. Image: FlightRadar24

For some reason, a fracases broke out at the gate, involving a group of girls aged around 19 to 20 years old. Whether this was to do with the delay is unclear, but as a result, some or all of the group were told they could not board the plane.

One of the party videoed an exchange with the gate agent. This was then shared by their friend back in the UK, who goes by the Twitter handle @KaiserCoby, with her almost 10,000 followers. As a result, the video and situation quickly went viral.

Shortly after the recording was made, security were called to deal with the girls. The agent at this time said she felt ‘threatened’, and security advised the passengers they were not allowed to talk to them anymore. Again, Kaiser Coby shared the clip on Twitter.

The agent felt ‘disgusted’

What’s really causing an issue is the short clip below, where the gate agent says she didn’t feel threatened at all. In fact, she felt disgusted.

The girls and the person who shared the video claim this was evidence of racial profiling, and that the lady was trying to say that the colored girls ‘disgusted’ her. However, Flybe say that this was taken out of context, and that the gate agent was trying to say their behavior disgusted her; nothing to do with race at all.

The girls were indeed refused boarding on the flight, and allegedly spent the night in the airport. As far as we know, they have now returned to the UK safely. Flight BE110 finally took off at 21:06, two and a half hours late, landing in Birmingham at 20:08 local time.

The other side of the story

As with many cases of viral videos and boarding denials, there are two sides to this story. A fellow passenger on the plane similarly took to Twitter to highlight the issues and one-sidedness of the tale being told.

She described a situation where the group of girls were asked to go to the back of the boarding queue. Two went to the back, but then decided to cut back in at the front and began arguing with the gate agent. Some were told they weren’t going to be allowed to board the flight because of their behavior, which was when everything got out of control and security were called.

Brown Sugar even goes on to say that one of the girls was ready to board, with her ID and ticket checked, but voluntarily stayed behind for some reason. She claims the girls were throwing ‘abusive words’ at the women at the boarding gate, and that they are playing the ‘racism card’ just to get attention.

Some other commenters have alluded to the notion that the person who shared the video is an ‘influencer’, meaning she has a large following, which would explain how the video got so much attention so fast.

Flybe’s take

Simple Flying reached out to Flybe to understand their take on the situation. They responded with a statement, and said they are not in a position to comment on the situation any further.

“We would like to confirm that Flybe has concluded an investigation into the incident at the departure gate in Amsterdam on Sunday 30thJune 2019, and stands by its decision in having refused boarding to the passengers involved because of their disruptive behaviour; and it can also confirm our Customer Relations’ team has been in contact with a family member and some of the passengers involved.

“Following the receipt of reports and verbal confirmation from all relevant parties, including the national police agency whose officers were called to intervene, we can report the following findings against the specific allegations made:

  • At no stage were any passports ‘seized or confiscated’ and at no stage did Flybe nor the Dutch police remain in possession of any such personal documentation
  • Flybe’s third party ground services’ agents did feel threatened by the aggressive behaviour and language used towards them by this group of passengers
  • That the snippets of video footage posted by the passengers served to misinterpret the full conversation relating to the word ‘disgusted’ which was used by one of the Dutch-speaking gate agents when referring to the fact she was ‘disgusted’ by their behaviour and aggressive attitude.  There was no intention for this to be communicated or received as a personal insult to any of the passengers involved.

“Flybe has taken this allegation extremely seriously and investigated it as a matter of urgency.  We expect all our customers at all times to be treated with respect and courtesy by our staff which includes our third party agents. If, at any time we believe that this has been compromised, then we would not hesitate to take the necessary steps to rectify it.

“The safety and security of our passengers and crew is Flybe’s number one priority and, as such, we have a zero tolerance policy with any form of disruptive behaviour that might in any way compromise this.”

While the entire truth of what happened at Schiphol will remain in the hands of those who were present at the gate, we should always take ‘viral videos’ with a pinch of salt. While racism, on any level, is unacceptable, when we’re presented with only one side of the story, filtered through careful editing, it’s crucial we ask questions to uncover the truth.

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