Delta Airlines released a statement Wednesday in response to a video which showed Delta crew members escorting YouTube star Adam Saleh off of a flight in London, CBS News reports.
Saleh, 23, claims he was removed from a New York bound flight after speaking to his mother over the phone in Arabic. According to Saleh, several passengers expressed discomfort, prompting crew members to remove him and his friend, Slim Albaher, from the plane.
In the statement released to CBS, Delta says Saleh, a famed prankster whose videos have garnered millions of views, sought to disrupt passengers, something Saleh staunchly denies.
“Upon landing the crew was debriefed and multiple passenger statements collected. Based on the information collected to date, it appears the customers who were removed sought to disrupt the cabin with provocative behavior, including shouting. This type of conduct is not welcome on any Delta flight. While one, according to media reports, is a known prankster who was video recorded and encouraged by his traveling companion, what is paramount to Delta is the safety and comfort of our passengers and employees. It is clear these individuals sought to violate that priority.”
Saleh posted the incident to his Twitter account on Wednesday which spread like wildfire over the internet. The video has been retweeted over 800,000 times.
In the video, Saleh is seen in the aisle of the plane, clearly upset that he was asked to leave for “speaking a different language.” As the camera spans the crowd, several passengers are seen waving goodbye, while also verbally shouting for Saleh to leave.
After Twitter lit up with outrage, journalist Soledad O’Brien tweeted that a friend of hers was on the flight and that crew members were aware of Saleh’s status as known prankster. Naysayers soon began to question Saleh’s motives.
Saleh maintains that Wednesday’s interaction was not a farce and posted a status update after he was allowed to board a different flight headed to JFK Airport.
Delta has faced several allegations involving tense racial interactions within the last few months. Most recently a Black woman was dragged off a Delta flight by police after she refused to comply with flight attendants, according to authorities.
In October, Tamika Cross, a prominent Texas based Black doctor, says she was shamed by Delta staff after she offered to help an ailing passenger on her flight. Delta has since revised their policy for emergency inflight treatment after Cross’ story went viral.
SOURCE: CBS News