A finance manager has accused Ryanair of ‘racially profiling’ her and her family after she was turned away from a flight in a furious row over the size of her cabin bag.
Mother-of-two Chassidy Robertson, 28, was returning to London last month after a week-long break in Fuerteventura, Spain with her two children and younger sister Danique, when she was told her 10kg priority boarding bag was too large.
In video filmed by her sister, staff can be heard telling Ms Robertson that she is no longer allowed to fly and has to ‘get out’ of the airport due to the ‘scene’ she has made at the gate – as they called police on the family.
Ms Robertson believes the row arose after she was ‘racially profiled’ by staff who allegedly told her they ‘didn’t like’ the way she looked at an employee as she walked through the gate.
Ryanair have denied the allegations, calling them ‘completely false’ and insisting the passenger’s bag was simply too large for their size restrictions and needed to go in the hold.
The bag at the centre of the row, which ended in Ms Robertson and her family being removed from the queue
Chassidy Robertson, from Putney, London, pictured with her two children while on holiday
The airline says Ms Robertson was removed because she became ‘abusive’ and tried to board the aircraft without permission.
The confrontation left Ms Robertson feeling ‘attacked’ and ’embarrassed’, as well as distressed as she was desperate to board the flight, having run out of formula for her one-year-old daughter, who has various allergies.
Ms Robertson had paid an extra £25 to upgrade her sister to priority boarding and allow for a 10kg bag on the flight – but the airline said it was the size of her bag, and not the weight, which meant she would have to pay extra for it to go in the hold.
The mother-of-two claims the row erupted because they were told they had not paid priority for the bag and that staff had not liked a ‘dirty look’ or ‘side-eye’ she had supposedly given a staff member while scanning her boarding pass.
Ryanair have since insisted that while they had paid for the 10kg cabin bag, it did not fit the dimensions permitted for the flight, so the group were advised to pay a standard fee to put it into the hold several times before ‘forcing their way through the gate’.
Concerned about her one-year-old daughter, who had run out of the prescription formula milk she relies on due to allergies, the mother was reduced to tears and was forced to book a flight on a different airline to get back to the UK.
In a furious letter to the airline, Ms Robertson told them she believes the incident occurred ‘because she’s a black woman’ and she vowed to ‘make sure it doesn’t go unheard about’.
Ms Robertson, from Putney, London, said: ‘It gets me so upset even talking about it now. I do think it was racism. My children have never experienced anything like that, my son was crying.
‘I just wanted to resolve it as my one-year-old has medical issues, she has a special formula milk which had run out that day as I didn’t bring extra on holiday.
Concerned about her one-year-old daughter, who had run out of the prescription formula milk she relies on due to allergies, the mother was reduced to tears and was forced to book a flight on a different airline to get back to the UK
Ms Robertson’s sister Danique began filming the exchange as the row became heated
Ryanair called police to remove the family after claiming they became ‘abusive’ – something Ms Robertson denies
Ms Robertson, 28, said officials banned her from flying because they ‘racially profiled’ her
‘My great grandmother had just passed away unexpectedly so we wanted to get back that day to be with family. They didn’t want to hear it though, they just said we aren’t flying today.’
She also claimed that one of the handling agents told her sister, who had been filming the exchange, that if she deleted one of her videos they would be allowed on board – before ‘laughing’ at them and still denying them entry when she did.
Ms Robertson said: ‘They called the police on us. At no point were we ever violent or threatening.
‘Other people waiting to board the plane were saying “how can you be doing this to this woman and her children?” One lady was crying herself because of how they were treating us.’
In the footage a member of staff can be heard telling Ms Robertson that she does not have priority and would need to still pay at the gate – prompting further confusion.
During the confrontation, a frustrated Danique can be heard in the video quoting Danielle Bregoli as she threatens: ‘You’re lucky I don’t live here I would catch you outside’.
The group were escorted to Ryanair’s desk by the police, where they were told the next flight was on Friday, meaning they’d have to find accommodation to stay another four nights.
With no formula left, and unable to afford this, Ms Robertson ended up booking them onto an easyJet flight for later that day.
Ms Robertson is now scared to fly again in case she faces a similar situation
Ryanair staff allegedly ‘laughed’ at the family as they refused them access to the flight
She said: ‘When we were boarding, they scanned our boarding passes and looked at our passports and let us through. Everything was fine. We were in the little tunnel about to get on the plane and I was called back.
‘She told me that we didn’t have priority baggage and that we wouldn’t be flying today as she didn’t like the way I looked at her when scanning my boarding pass. This made no sense to me. I had priority booking on my phone, it was on the app. She was denying that we had it.
‘When I had walked through [the boarding gate], I hadn’t even looked at her. I was more focused on my children and getting them through.
‘Regardless of if I did look at her funny, which I didn’t, that isn’t a reason to not let somebody on the plane.
‘I didn’t think this would warrant us not flying, so I went back to my sister and kids. We were then forcefully removed from the line. They started pushing me with my one-year-old daughter in my hands. My son was crying, my daughter was crying. I felt so embarrassed and attacked.
‘I asked, “is it racially motivated?” They laughed and said “if that’s what you want to think.”
‘Going over it again, it brings tears to my eyes that my children had to see that.’
Since returning home, the mother has sent a complaint to Ryanair via email but she felt their response showed ‘no remorse’ as it denied any racism and only restated that her sister’s bag was too big. Now, she feels terrified to get on another plane and travel overseas in case the same thing ever happens again.
A Ryanair spokesperson said: ‘This passenger’s cabin bag exceeded the dimensions permitted for her flight from Fuerteventura to Luton (17 July).
‘As per Ryanair’s T&Cs, which were accepted by the passenger at the time of booking, oversized cabin baggage must be placed in the hold of the aircraft for a standard fee which this passenger was advised at the check in desk and again at the gate.
‘This passenger refused to pay the standard baggage fee and became abusive towards staff, including forcing herself through the gate and towards the aircraft, to which the gate staff promptly requested police assistance and the passenger was removed.’