A British Airways passenger suffering from cancer and diabetes claims he was shackled to his seat and “treated like a slave” when he tried to move to business class because he was feeling ill, according to a report.
Kwame Bantu, 65, said he felt dizzy during a flight to Jamaica on Wednesday so he tried to upgrade himself, but was “ambushed” by crew members who tied him and dragged him back to economy, the UK’s Daily Mail reported.
“I was just trying to get some room to stretch my leg,” he told the site. ‘But nobody was helping me. They refused to listen about my medical illness and what I was going through. I was treated like a slave.”
A fellow passenger, Joy Stoney, was ejected from the flight along with Bantu and abandoned on the Portuguese island of Terceira after trying to help him, the Mail reported.
Stoney said she intervened when she saw Bantu being dragged away after inquiring how much a business upgrade would cost.
“The way they restrained him was absolutely preposterous,” Stoney, 40, told the paper. “They restrained him by his shoulders via his neck and hands with straps. His ankles were strapped and on top of everything, they handcuffed him.
“What alarmed me the most was when he wanted to urinate. I know from caring for my mother that if you restrain a diabetic like that, they’re going to need the toilet,” she said. “…They said, ‘He needs to defecate himself in the chair’ and I think that is utterly inhumane.”
Bantu said he was “completely humiliated” and stripped of his human rights.
“I didn’t even have the energy to fight them because my blood pressure would have gone even higher,” Bantu said.
“I don’t think I deserved that kind of behavior. I can understand if they thought I was going to be violent but [the restraints] stopped my blood from circulating,” he said. “It’s when some of the other passengers expressed their concern for me that they stopped the plane and landed to kick us out.”
British Airways told the Daily Mail that Bantu refused to move from business class and verbally abused crew — so they “helped him walk back to his original seat.”
“Caring for our customers is our highest priority and we continue to investigate all the circumstances surrounding this incident,” the airline said.
“We take great care to handle these difficult situations as sensitively as possible. Our cabin crew and one of our pilots repeatedly asked a customer to return to his booked seat in economy after he sat in our business class cabin without permission. He repeatedly refused, verbally abused crew members and disturbed other customers.”
A spokesman for the Portuguese police on Terceira said Bantu and Stoney had not been arrested.