Cape Town - British Airways' controversial tier-payment priority policy has gotten it into hot water. The airline admits a recent incident in its business class section, involving local award-winning music group Black Motion, could have been handled better, states "staff were under pressure".
The duo was escorted off a British Airways flight following an alleged racist incident on board a flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg on Monday, 04 December.
SEE: Black Motion fuming after BA business class bump in alleged racism incident
According to the group who took to Instagram to share the incident, they booked into business class and were seated when an air hostess asked them to move to economy after a fellow passenger complained about a broken seat and she needed to be move.
Comair, the operator of British Airways domestic flights in South Africa, has responded saying, "Following an investigation into allegations of racism, Comair’s CEO Erik Venter has written to the customers to apologise unreservedly for the hurt this incident caused and explain what happened".
According to Comair, the situation arose as "two damaged business class seats were not removed from the check-in system, as should have happened. As a result two customers were checked-in and allocated seats in which they could not fly."
These customers were both silver card frequent flyer members, who are prioritised as a matter of global policy, it says. The airline recently introduced a new controversial "pay less, board last" policy that boards passengers based on how much they paid for a seat.
SEE: Priority boarding and the insignificance of budget travellers?
According to Comair, Thabo "Smol" Mabogwane and Bongani "Murdah" Mohosana were identified as non-frequent flyers travelling on discounted business class fares.
"This is common airline practice on rare occasions when downgrades occur. It was on this basis that two other customers in business class were approached," the airline says.
'Staff could have handled the situation better'
"Understandably they were upset. The crew was under pressure because the flight was already delayed, but should have handled the situation better."
Comair says it will not tolerate racism and has offered to let Black Motion "independently review the situation".
ALSO SEE: WATCH: Man taken off FlySafair flight after alleged racial threats
Following the incident Black Motion stated, "We were embarrassed and removed from business class just because a white woman complained about her broken seat.
"Our image has been compromised. We had to suffer as if we own British Airlines (sic) having to suffer while a white lady was comfortable in our seats.
"Our image/ reputation as has been compromised and this is because of our kindness. We will forever humble ourselves.
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