BANGKOK, 15 October 2019: A Turkish Airlines passenger identified as Renee Ezra accuses Bangkok Airways of racial profiling and mistreatment, according to a report Kahawa Tungu, a news service in Nairobi.
The passenger was eventually repatriated to Nairobi on Turkish Airways via Turkey after Bangkok Airways allegedly refused onward boarding on a connecting flight to Cambodia.
Bangkok Airways in a short statement in response to a TTR Weekly email asking for comment said it was “investigating the incident”.
In her tweet, Renee said: “I will describe this whole ordeal as black profiling in flights and airports, something that governments need to put a stop to, to protect the black travel community!”
She subsequently tweeted that she had been mistreatment and subjected to profiling by Turkish Airlines and its codeshare partner Bangkok Airways.
Ezra, who indicates a domicile in Geneva Switzerland, notes on her Twitter account a link to the travel website Africanwanderlusts.com.
Ticketing for the trip issued by Turkish Airlines used a Bangkok Airways service from the Thai capital to Phnom Penh through a commercial agreement between the two airlines.
On landing in Bangkok, 9 October, Ezra alleges Bangkok Airlines’ staff at Suvararnbhumi Airport needed to see USD2,000 in cash to confirm she had sufficient funds to enter Cambodia.
“They asked for the visa to Cambodia, and I told them it was on arrival,” the passenger narrated on her Twitter account. “They checked and confirmed it! Having found literally nothing to hold against checking me in, after over 10 minutes, that’s when all hell broke loose! They said they needed to see USD2,000 cash for them to allow me to board the flight. “
After a heated conversation trying to convince the officials, she was forced to withdraw USD500 from her account, the Nairobi-based news service stated. She had an additional KSH132,000, which she hoped would be enough to convince airline officials.
Despite being shown bank statements and online status of the accounts, the officials denied boarding, according to the Kenya news service report.
Ezra called the Cambodian immigration department, who acknowledged that bank statements were enough, but the officials remained unmoved even as Renee missed her flight.
“They seemed unnerved even after the phone call! Now, the part that hurt most was that there were soo many people being checked in without having to show cash,” she tweeted.
After failing to board the connecting flight she demanded Turkish Airlines fly her home, but according to the news report it took “two hours of negotiations between Turkish Airlines and Bangkok Airways”.
TTR Weekly gave Bangkok Airways an opportunity to respond, but at the time of posting the report, the airline had not replied. However, it has since emailed a short acknowledgement and statement at 0910 15 October.
It read: “Thank you for your e-mail. We are currently investigating the incident. We shall get in touch shortly.”
Tasara Taksinapan (Ket) Manager – Media Relations Corporate Communications, Office of President
(Report updated later in the day, 15 October, adding a Bangkok Airways statement.)
(First reported by Francis Muli for Kahawa Tungu)
We were utterly being profiled by our skin color!@bangkok_airways do you only require black travelers traveling through you to show you 2000 USD CASH? Even after the country they’re transferring to confirms that they do not need that@bbcswahili@BBCBreaking@KTNKenya
Here is the only response Ezra received from the airline via Twitter.
Replying to@ReneeEzraand@TurkishAirlinesHello Renee, we truly regret to hear that you had an unpleasant experience. For further investigation, could you please provide the following information for us by DM? – Your booking reference – Full name of the passenger – Flight details and your E-mail