Delta Responds to YouTube Star's Claims He Was Kicked Off Flight for Speaking Arabic
Delta Air Lines is responding to backlash after a popular YouTube star claimed he was removed from a flight on Wednesday for speaking Arabic.
In a series of tweets, Adam Saleh claimed he and a friend were kicked off the flight after he spoke Arabic to his mother during a phone call while onboard the aircraft.
“I was speaking to my mom on the phone like I always do before getting on a flight,” Saleh told PEOPLE in a statement. “I call her before I take off and when I land so that she knows I am safe and well. I was speaking in Arabic when a female passenger began shouting that they felt uncomfortable. This encouraged almost 10 other passengers to agree and shout the same thing.
“We were kicked off the flight while those passengers mocked us. We are currently getting ready to get onto another flight with another airline. I will keep everyone updated with the situation through social media! I appreciate everyone’s support and effort in raising awareness on this!”
In a video showing Saleh and his friend surrounded by airline officials on the plane, he says, “We spoke a different language on the plane, and now we’re getting kicked out. This is 2016. 2016. Delta Air Lines are kicking us out because we spoke a different language … I can not believe my eyes.”
In the video footage, passengers on the plane were seen waving and saying “bye” to the group as airline staff escorted Saleh out.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Delta officials said two passengers were removed from the flight following a “disturbance in the cabin that resulted in more than 20 customers expressing their discomfort.”
“We are taking allegations of discrimination very seriously; our culture requires treating others with respect,” officials added.
The airline said that the removed passengers were later booked on another flight.
Saleh said in the video that one passenger told him to “shut the f— up,” and he addressed others who apparently claimed they were “uncomfortable.”
“You guys are racist,” he said. “I spoke a word, a different language and you said you feel uncomfortable?”
He added: “I’m about to cry right now … six white people against us bearded men … I feel uncomfortable.”
The YouTube personality tweeted updates during the incident, writing that police were present and the men were security checked more than once.
Saleh, a 23-year-old from New York, is known for his prank-filled YouTube videos on his channel that has amassed more than two million subscribers.