Recently, a story began circulating on Facebook about an incident on a Brazilian airline. The story, accompanied by a nondescript picture of an airline stewardess, soon went viral. Here is the text of the story:
This happened on TAM airlines.
A 50-something year old white woman arrived at her seat and saw that the passenger next to her was a black man.
Visibly furious, she called the air hostess.
“What’s the problem, ma?” the hostess asked her
“Can’t you see?” the lady said – “I was given a seat next to a black man. I can’t seat here next to him. You have to change my seat”
– “Please, calm down, ma” – said the hostess
“Unfortunately, all the seats are occupied, but I’m still going to check if we have any.”
The hostess left and returned some minutes later.
“Madam, as I told you, there isn’t any empty seat in this class- economy class.
But I spoke to the captain and he confirmed that there isn’t any empty seats in the economy class. We only have seats in the first class.”
And before the woman said anything, the hostess continued
“Look, it is unusual for our company to allow a passenger from the economy class change to the first class.
However, given the circumstances, the commandant thinks that it would be a scandal to make a passenger travel sat next to an unpleasant person.”
And turning to the black man, the hostess said:
“Which means, Sir, if you would be so nice to pack your handbag, we have reserved you a seat in the first class…”
And all the passengers nearby, who were shocked to see the scene started applauding, some standing on their feet.”
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These kinds of stories evoke a strong emotional reaction from many of us, and we want so badly to share them. But, is this story true?
A quick Snopes search reveals that this story has been around, in several different forms, since 1998.
From the Snopes entry:
“At different times the stories are circulated anew with their details altered. For instance, the story we recorded in 1998 about the racist woman on the British Airways flights out of Johannesburg came back for another round in 2004, that time purporting to be about a white woman on a flight between Saskatoon and Calgary. In 2005 it was told of a well-to-do woman seated next to a yarmulka-wearing Jew on a flight out of Atlanta. In January 2012 the story was spread via Facebook, that time about a “50-something year old white woman” traveling on TAM Airlines (a Brazilian air carrier).”