A man who was escorted from an easyJet flight bound for London by armed police because a fellow passenger told staff she ‘didn’t feel safe’ with him on board said he was left feeling ‘violated’.
Meghary Yemane-Tesfagiorgis, from London, was told by the captain he would need to get off the plane shortly before it was due to take off from Rome’s Fiumicino aiport.
He was told the woman had complained about his presence on the flight before being taken to the airport’s police station, where he said he was questioned by Italian authorities for more than 15 hours.
‘I felt violated,’ he told ITV News London. ‘It was racial profiling.
‘If she feels uncomfortable, she should get off the plane.’
Mr Yemane-Tesfagiorgis said he had been waiting for the plane to leave Italy when a member of cabin crew asked him to step forward.
‘After a 20 minute delay the captain explained a technical fault with luggage and informed us that the flight will commence shortly,’ Mr Yemane-Tesfagiorgis said.
‘After a few minutes, cabin crew emerged and asked ‘Is there a passenger with the last name of Yemane-Tesfagiorgis on board?’
‘I replied “Yes”, assuming that it was my luggage that was the issue.
‘I was then asked to come to the front of the cabin where I was greeted by armed police. I was asked to leave the plane by the captain, when asked why? He explained: “A fellow passenger has stated that she does not feel safe with you on board”. ‘
Mr Yemane-Tesfagiorgis says he then spent hours speaking to airline staff and the police, and suggested the passenger who made the complaint should be taken off the plane.
‘I was then directed by the police to the airport police station,’ he said. ‘I was subjected to further questioning and intimidation by the Italian authorities before being left to sit in the airport for a further 15 or so hours.’
Mr Yemane-Tesfagiorgis says he is seeking legal advice.
‘They [easyJet] have apologised to me on a few occasions,’ he said. ‘But it’s not about me and easyJet. It is way bigger than that.’
In a statement the airline said: ‘easyJet can confirm that flight EZY5258 from Rome Fiumicino to London Gatwick on 29 March 2016 was delayed due to the police requesting that additional security checks were undertaken before departure.
‘Mr Yemane-Tesfagiorgis was questioned by the authorities as a result of another passenger reporting concerns about his behaviour.
‘The safety and security of its passengers and crew is our highest priority and airlines have to take any security-related concerns seriously.
‘easyJet rebooked Mr Yemane-Tesfagiorgis on the next flight from Rome to Gatwick after the authorities confirmed they were satisfied he could travel.’