A Spirit Airlines passenger took to social media to document her alleged racist encounter on a flight from Las Vegas to Chicago last month.
The woman, identified as Tiarra Tiarra on Facebook, is African-American and claims she was denied an empty seat next to a white woman on the June 25 flight simply because of her complexion.
“So my flight was delayed from Detroit for 12 hours. Luckily I catch a flight from Vegas to Chicago. I board the Chicago flight and the open seat they gave me was next to a Russian woman, who refused to let me sit by her. Like refuses it to the point that she is arguing with the flight attendant about how she is not going to let me sit by her,” Tiarra wrote in a Facebook post.
“Luckily there were other (white) people on the plane who chose to switch seats with me so I wouldn’t have to sit by her which she happily allowed. I have never experienced this before. I’m so upset that I couldn’t lay hands on this lady. So appreciative of the other passengers who just rallied around me, held my hand and really prayed with me,” she added.
“This four-hour flight is about to feel like a lifetime. I’m am so embarrassed and heartbroken.”
Tiarra captured a brief video of the woman as she attempted to clear things up. “Her excuse was she thought the plane was already boarded and no one told her that she would have to sit next to anyone,” she wrote. “Mind you she allowed the young white college student to sit next to her with no issue.”
Tiarra said the flight attendants thanked her for being a “team player” but criticized Spirit for prioritizing the woman’s comfort and not escorting her off of the plane. She sarcastically thanked the airline for the “worst experience ever.”
“[Spirit Airlines has] launched an investigation into this incident and we have reached out directly to the guest to address her concerns,” the airline said in a statement to Yahoo Lifestyle. “Spirit Airlines has zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind on our flights and we pride ourselves on providing an inclusive and safe environment for our guests.”
Last year, Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair came under fire for its handling of a racist passenger on a flight from Barcelona to Standsted.