British Airways flight attendants fired for mocking Chinese passengers

By Linh Le   March 25, 2024 | 04:34 am PT
British Airways has dismissed two of its flight attendants for attempting to mimic a Chinese accent and making slant-eyed gestures, actions that are considered racially insensitive toward Chinese passengers.
An aircraft from British Airways. Photo from British Airways Twitter

An aircraft from British Airways. Photo from British Airways' Twitter

The incident, as reported by the South China Morning Post, involved a video that was uploaded on TikTok on March 16 and rapidly attracted significant attention.

It depicted two individuals, identified as British Airways flight attendants Holly Walton and Lauren Bray, engaging in the offensive behavior. Walton is seen making derogatory slant-eyed gestures and mimicking the accents of Chinese passengers with phrases like "Give me wine," while Bray appeared to be recording the video and laughing.

The gesture of pulling one’s eyes in a slanting manner is universally acknowledged as a disparaging act meant to ridicule the facial features of people of Asian descent.

As per Business Insider, the video is believed to have been recorded in 2022, during a stopover on the island of Antigua in the Caribbean following Walton and Bray’s flight from London, with the duo capturing themselves consuming wine at a hotel.

According to The Sun, the pair’s behavior aimed to mock a Chinese family on their flight, who reportedly spoke limited English and had communication difficulties, as stated by comments from their co-workers.

In reaction to the controversy, a representative for British Airways conveyed to Business Insider that the airline has terminated the employment of the two individuals, emphasizing that the airline finds "all forms of racism are completely unacceptable."

According to the South China Morning Post, reactions to the footage on Chinese social media platforms varied from inquiries about the humor found in mocking someone’s accent to positive recognition of British Airways’ prompt measures in dealing with the incident.

"How shallow and disgraceful is she, laughing at people who cannot speak very well a language that is not their mother tongue?" a Weibo user commented.

"What is wrong with Chinese people having a Chinese accent?" said another.

Another user expressed a positive view of British Airways’ "prompt and appropriate reaction" to the incident.

This incident marks another instance where airline personnel have been discharged for conduct deemed inappropriate toward passengers. Last year, Hong Kong flight operator Cathay Pacific Airways let go of three cabin crew members for ridiculing non-English speaking passengers from China.

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