Delta updates statement after passenger claims to be off flight for speaking Arabic

Passengers Claim They Were Removed From a Delta Flight for Speaking Arabic

LONDON — Employees working on a Delta Air Lines flight Wednesday morning kicked a pair of passengers off the plane because they were overheard speaking Arabic, one of the passengers claimed.

"Delta Air Lines kicked us out for speaking Arabic to my mom on a plane," popular YouTube personality Adam Saleh, 22, wrote on Twitter.

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Saleh had his camera rolling as he and fellow YouTube personality Slim Albaher were escorted off Delta Flight 1, bound for New York City from London.

"We spoke a different language on the plane, and now we're getting kicked out," Saleh said in the video. "This is 2016."

Saleh posted the recording on Twitter shortly after the incident, sparking a firestorm of criticism.

In a statement, a Delta spokesperson confirmed that two people were removed from Flight 1 and later rebooked "after a disturbance in the cabin resulted in more than 20 customers expressing their discomfort."

The airline did not elaborate on the nature of the disturbance.

"We're conducting a full review to understand what transpired," Delta said in a statement. "We are taking allegations of discrimination very seriously; our culture requires treating others with respect."

Saleh said in one of a series of videos posted to Periscope and Twitter that Delta employees later told him and Albaher that they were kicked off the plane because they were being too loud.

"Then give us a warning if we spoke loud," Saleh said. "All the racist people in there, they were like 'We feel uncomfortable,' but because there were like 20 of those racist people, the captain came and kicked us out."

Saleh, who has more than 2 million followers on YouTube, said he and Albaher were lucky that they have video skills.

"Imagine how many people they did that to that didn't have cameras," he said. "This is sad. What if someone else is speaking another language? What if someone is speaking Urdu? What if someone is speaking Chinese? And you say you're feeling uncomfortable and you get kicked out. Are you serious?"

Some on social media questioned the authenticity of Saleh's account, pointing to his reputation as a YouTube prankster.

Saleh's manager denied that Wednesday's incident was anything less than "as real as it gets," telling BuzzFeed News that the YouTuber always reveals his pranks.

In an interview with the Guardian, Saleh insisted the video was legitimate.

“You can exactly see in the video a person sticking a middle finger up at the back, you see a guy defending us. The captain was quiet when I said what had happened,” he told the Guardian. “We wouldn’t be here joking around, we have even more footage we’re going to be sharing.”

Upon landing, the crew was debriefed and multiple passenger statements collected. Based on the information collected to date, it appears the customers who were removed sought to disrupt the cabin with provocative behavior, including shouting. This type of conduct is not welcome on any Delta flight. While one, according to media reports, is a known prankster who was video recorded and encouraged by his traveling companion, what is paramount to Delta is the safety and comfort of our passengers and employees. It is clear these individuals sought to violate that priority.

It's not the first time Delta has been accused of discrimination.

A Muslim couple was kicked off a Delta plane in August after a flight crew member complained that she was uncomfortable having the pair on the flight, USA Today reported.

The company apologized last month after video surfaced on social media of a white man launching into a loud, pro-Donald Trump rant on a flight. He was not kicked off the plane, but the airline later announced that it had banned him from all future flights.