- Posted August 5, 2013 by
Asian Passengers are Second Class Citizens on Major Airline
I am writing about an incident of discrimination that occurred on flight AF107 on July 21, 2013 from Guangzhou to Paris. For the purpose of this letter you need to know that I am a Taiwanese American passenger and my fiancé is a Caucasian English passenger.
My fiancé and I were enjoying our flight and chatting when he was offered a French meal. The flight attendant, Ms. X, then walked off without asking me what I wanted. About 10 minutes later when she walked back my fiancé tried to get her attention by saying, “Excuse me” but she ignored him by giving him the “hold on” hand gesture. About a minute later she passed by again but this time she completely ignored his, “excuse me”. It was strange to me because the people directly in front of me had been served, as well as select people in back of where I was sitting. In addition, these select people were offered champagne while I had neither food nor drink.
The forth time Ms. X walked by (about 15 minutes now) with a food trolley I asked her if I could get food and she responded with a harsh, “Wait”. I asked her why my fiancé sitting next to me had food and she replied with, “It’s French”. When I told her I wanted a French meal as well she walked away.
After my shock and confusion about her rude behavior, I took a look around and noticed that all the white passengers that were not sleeping had already been served, and none of the Asian passengers had food.
As the flight left from China, I understand that there is a demand for Chinese food from some Asian passengers. However, I did not understand why I had not even been asked when I was sitting right next to someone who was being asked if he wanted a meal. Keep in mind that at this point Ms. X was still refusing to acknowledge me.
It was then that a Chinese flight attendant came over and told us that Ms. X was a very nice person and that I misunderstood the situation. She explained this to me in Chinese, even though English is my language of fluency. She also repeatedly laughed and told me the situation did not happen, and that it was something I was making up in my mind. She apologized and I told her that I wanted to speak with Ms. X about the situation, as she was the one who could explain her own actions.
After this flight attendant and another flight attendant both asked Ms. X to speak to me she finally did. I reiterated what had happened and she told me it was a matter of her running out of food on her cart, and that I misunderstood. After this conversation, the head flight attendant with short gray hair asked Ms. X what was going on. Ms. X responded by telling her that I was upset because I didn’t get my food at the same time. This person in charge then took one look at me and made a loud mocking sound, then walked away. I told Ms. X that if she wanted to talk about me then she could at least do this away from my seat. Ms. X and the woman with short gray hair wrongly assumed that my fiancé and I could not understand French and thought it was acceptable to behave in such an unprofessional way. Even if neither of us could speak French, their mannerisms during their conversation about me, right in front of me was crystal clear.
I have been on countless flights in my lifetime and never made a single complaint. This was clearly not a matter of a flight attendant running out of food, but one that chose to serve all the white passengers on the flight first. If it was a question of a French or Chinese meal, all she had to do was ask. I was not only ignored multiple times and not given a choice, but also received attitude from Ms. X when I tried to explain why I was offended and why I felt and still feel like I was discriminated against. Her refusal to serve me at the same time she was serving the white passengers paints a very clear picture of discrimination.
On top of that, her colleague (the Chinese speaking attendant) not only told me I was making up the situation and laughed at me, but also refused to tell me Ms. X name, claiming that she didn’t know it. And, the person in charge was not only disinterested in the situation but also made her lack of respect towards me clear by talking about me and mocking me right in front of my face.
Ms. X did attempt an apology at one point by saying she was sorry I misunderstood, and that she wished her Chinese was as good as my English. That comment is beyond ignorant as it suggests that English HAS to be a second language to me and that someone who is of Asian descent could not have grown up in an English speaking country.
After a few times of me asking for her name, she finally told me and gave me her card.
This entire incident was extremely upsetting. I could not eat much of my meal and my body was shaking for quite awhile. I’m sure that this experience will stay with me long after the meal. It certainly has tainted my image of Air France.
I have never been so insulted, disgusted, and upset as I am by this incident with Ms. X. So far I have received one very dismissive email back from AF’s customer service department. There was no acknowledgement of any discrimination but instead an email saying, “We are sorry to learn that the service you experienced on this occasion failed to meet your expectations.”