Russian airline Aeroflot has been accused of racial discrimination by five Asian-American passengers. The five passengers were part of a flight from Delhi to New York with a connection in Moscow. During the stopover in Russia the flight to New York was cancelled because of heavy snow on the Eastern Coast of the US. All of the white passengers of the flight were offered another connection to New York. Shockingly, the five passengers of South Asian descent were told they would only be offered flights back to Delhi, would not be provided any accommodation in Moscow, and if they did not agree to go peacefully would be forcefully deported by Russian officials.
“Go back to India,” one airline employee told the US citizens or he would “make matters worse for them”. Aeroflot employees went on to refuse to speak an American diplomat over the phone, ignored the passengers’ US passports, and repeatedly told them they would be deported “back to India” if they did not board a flight out of the country in the next 23 hours.
White US citizens from the same flight were offered connecting flights back to New York, and were also provided accommodation.
A video filmed by one of the passengers shows an Aeroflot employee slamming the group’s US passports down onto a counter and walking away only to return with tickets to Delhi. Eventually, fearing for their safety and threatened with fines and potential imprisonment, the group of passengers boarded the flight to Delhi. Upon their arrival they were told they would be forced to wait weeks for another flight to New York. They were forced to spend thousands of dollars paying for last minute accommodation, while many have complained that the delays have cost them weeks away from their jobs.
One of the passengers wrote on his Facebook status:
“I have lost a week of work (I will not be allowed to vacation this year) and faced tremendous mental stress.
“I have been flying for over 17+ years and never ever been harassed or treated this way.”
Five South Asian Americans file complaint with U.S Department of Transportation, saying Aeroflot staff “deported” them to India based on ...— Little India (@littleindia) March 27, 2018
Aeroflot responded to the Independent’s inquiries with the following statement:
We clearly fell short of our customary high standards of service in this incident, which occurred more than two months ago, and indeed we contacted the passengers immediately afterwards to offer our apologies. However, our thorough internal investigation established that this was not a case of discrimination based on appearance, and we do not accept this characterisation in the complaint.
While Aeroflot is a Russian company it can still be fined by the US for violating the rights of its passengers, and it has received fines in the past for its behaviour.