File photo of Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic has promised to look into the case in which a Chinese passenger was verbally abused by a white passenger and one flight attendant while flying from London to Shanghai on March 1, 2016.
The case became high-profile when the Chinese passenger, Liu Wei, posted an article on China’s microblog platform Weibo on March 3, sharing her extremely upsetting experience of racial discrimination on Virgin Flight VS250.
“A 55-something white man suddenly rose from his seat and walked towards me. Gnashing his teeth in anger and pointing at my nose, he said, ‘You f*cking Chinese pig!!! Get the f*ck out of here!’” wrote the article.
Boarding pass of Liu Wei
“I couldn’t believe my ears at first. And then overwhelmed by shock and rage, I said, ‘What did you say to me?’ He just repeated what he said, clutching his hands as if he is about to hit me,” Liu said in the article.
According to the post, Liu has to seek help from other passengers before the flight attendant came, while the man kept using the f word and all other discriminative words behind her back. “A British man and his Chinese wife decided they could not have it anymore and stepped up to stop him, but they were threatened by the man,” Liu said.
Then came the flight attendant, but it did not come to Liu’s relief. “The flight attendant walked towards me and loudly scolded me, asking me to stop quarreling with the man or I would be asked to leave the plane immediately,” the article said.
After Liu’s explanation that it was the man who started it, the flight attendant unheedingly went away, only to return when other passengers stood in witness of Liu. “The attendant said, ‘I will change the man’s seat to another because he suffers mental disorder. This would be good to all.’”
However, the change never came. For 11 hours on flight, Liu had to stay awake in terror in order to keep an eye on the man sitting rows behind her. “When all the other passengers went to sleep, I sat there. Terror, anger, humiliation, and powerlessness and frustration of being a Chinese seized my heart. I cannot breathe.” Liu wrote in the article.
A female Chinese flight attendant later comforted Liu by persuading her to give up the hope that the man would be shifted to another seat. “The attendant who scolded you was our superior. He had told us to get you out of the plane if there is more saying in the dispute,” Liu quoted the Chinese flight attendant in the article.
After the plane landed, Liu required the name of the male flight attendant, which was hesitantly given by some other attendants . “His name is Nathan Smith,” Liu said, “which there is no way to verify on that.”
The article has been reposted over 33,000 times on weibo and is widely publicized on Chinese media, causing a national rage over the aviation company for allowing safety-threatening passenger on flight and for the on-board crew’s improper handling of the case.
In response, the Virgin Atlantic Airways said the case is under investigation and their customer relations team has been in direct contact with Liu.