Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Racism in the Skies.


A woman claimed that barring Indians, all the other passengers were given good hotel accommodation since their flight was delayed.
The airline allegedly did not give any reason for the delay and dumped all Indians in a small room, she told reporters.
Another passenger accused Air France of not providing Indians with proper food or water during the ordeal.(An extract from the above link)

If this is true, what a shame!

Air France has denied doling out discriminatory treatment, but I’d rather give more credence to the passengers’version. Why should they make such a false claim? The airlines has every reason to deny the allegation.

Leave alone the ethical aspect of the issue, it is the absence of commercial wisdom which causes many international airlines not to make an all out effort to neutralize the racially discriminative approach/ attitude of its employees.

I have heard many Indian frequent travelers complaining about subtle racist slur in the treatment meted out to them.

International aviation industry should realise that non-European customers contribute hugely to their income. Guess it’ll do good to have the following quote put up in places frequented by all airlines employees.

A customer is the most important visitor on our premises.
He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him.
He is not an interruption in our work - he is the purpose of it.
We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us the opportunity to serve him.- Mahatma Gandhi

Just imagine what will happen if, the allegation of the passengers being found true, the Government of India issues a fatwa to Indians to boycott Air France!


  1. Even if there was no racism, I would still suggest to boycott Air France. It is one of the lousiest airlines in the world!

  2. Indians are sort of the most ill-treated group in EU with almost equivalent status as the gypsies. However, I disagree that Air France deserves any blame in this case. I think Air France couldn't provide any more means to Indian passengers, simply due to immigration regulations which do not favor fair treatment of Indians in offering transit visas compared to other races.

  3. hmm...i don’t have great opinion of Air France either....I think Emirates has always been the most India friendly airline....J

    But I guess we have to make sure about the veracity of this accusations...most Europeans in the flight must have had the legal privileges to go outside the airport and hence got a easy transit.

    The way news is written suggests its just one side of the story…some of the statements in the article is plain emotional outburst..

    “First they aborted take-off after gaining speed on the runway. They said there was a problem with a switch,”

    What exactly the passenger wanted in that case…To keep flying when the pilot suspected a hitch in the plane??

    ‘The food they talk about giving us was half a sandwich, that to cold, and a 200-ml water bottle. The choice was between Tuna and plain cheese’

    Again sandwich is served cold in Europe…and this is regular fare in european flights…If that they have been already served dinner in flight before landing at 8:30 pm expecting them to serve tikka masala or a full course meal would be ludicrous.

    Generally speaking airline services in Europe are not overtly traveler friendly (more or less like train travel) unlike in India where it still retains some of the 'customer is the king' and elite services tag. I have myself seen many of our folks expecting themselves to be treated ‘royally’ and ‘extra-special’ and flouting luggage rules when everyone is paying the same fare…

    However its regrettable that Air France couldn’t arrange a transit visa in quick time but adding a racial profiling tinge to it is something I cannot easily derive out of the whole thing..

  4. If this is true, its really bad, have to say though that have not yet faced any such discrimination myself, but I do hear stories.

  5. Nothing new here ma'am. This has been happening ever since my dad started flying to the gulf.

    Anyways, you're a married woman. It would be interesting to have your take on this post of mine :)


  6. I saw this on the news and that Air France apologized to them.

    I don't know if Indian govt. is going to do something about it though.

  7. hello!

    i hate to admit it but i often get embarrased by the behaviour of some fellow Indians on international flights/airports etc.

    They often act like they are on a crowded bus, exhibiting general impatience. when the flight lands, they all stand up and crowd the aisle like this is a bus stop and the plane will take off again in 5 minutes.

    At the airport Indians typically have to be reminded to stand behind the "yellow" line.

    I think a well behaved Indian will be treated well anywhere.

    I have never travelled to europe so i could be wrong...

  8. The french are famous for their high nosed attitude about the brown skin. Its the indian traveller who needs to know the best flight to chose from years of experience rather than go for the prices alone.

    My personal preference starts with Emirates and SriLankan.

  9. Im not sure what actually transpired, all I know is that Air France has got a bad reputation,all right. Afterall they are French (look, Im a racist now! ;) )

    Im wondering how the non EU citizens could be allowed to travel out of a European Airport.. An Indian/ Asian passport holder is not allowed out of the Airport terminal unless you have a pre-acquired Transit Visa. If the flight is late, then unfortunately, you have to kill your time in the terminal if you are not an EU citizen. Its the rule and you cant complain about it. They have very good reasons behind such laws.

    Some of the accusations I read in there is childish, and embarrassing to say the least. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse, you know?

  10. Since we had a Shengan(EU) visa, getting out of the airport at Paris was not much of a big deal, but I guess, otherwise it could be difficult, esp when organizing a transit visa could take some time.

    And I totally agree with Pooja, our fellow country men can behave very odd, which can be absolutely embarrassing. Am not going into the details.

    But then if going by what is said is the truth, then it is very sad.


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