Forced to Sit Next to an Obnoxious Person

by | Jun 9, 1998 | Acceptance, Forgiveness, Judging, Prejudice

As we know, we see discrimination in some form or another almost everyday and often times it leaves a sour taste in our mouths.

The following story shows us the side of diversity that we are all working for. It is a pleasant twist to see that there are companies and individuals who face discrimination head on, if only one small step at a time. I applaud British Airways for their action in this situation.

On a British Airways flight from Johannesburg, a middle-aged, well-off white South African lady found herself sitting next to a black man. She called the cabin crew attendant over to complain about her seating.

“What seems to be the problem Madam?” Asked the attendant.

“Can’t you see?” She said “You’ve sat me next to a Kaffir. I can’t possibly sit next to this disgusting human. Find me another seat!”

“Please calm down Madam.” The stewardess replied. “The flight is very full today, but I’ll tell you what I’ll do, I’ll go and check to see if we have any seats available in club or first class.”

The woman cocks a snooty look at the outraged black man beside her (not to mention many of the surrounding passengers).

A few minutes later the stewardess returns with the good news, which she delivers to the lady, who cannot help but look at the people around her with a smug and self satisfied grin.

“Madam, unfortunately, as I suspected, economy is full. I’ve spoken to the cabin services director, and club is also full. However, we do have one seat in first class.”

Before the lady has a chance to answer, the stewardess continues,

“It is most extraordinary to make this kind of an upgrade, however, and I have had to get special permission from the captain. But, given the circumstances, the captain felt that it was outrageous that someone be forced to sit next to such an obnoxious person.”

With which, she turned to the black man sitting next to the woman, and said,

“So if you’d like to get your things, sir, I have your seat ready for you.”

At which point, apparently the surrounding passengers stood and gave a standing ovation while the black guy walks up to the front of the plane.

People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.

Author unknown. If anyone has a proprietary interest in this story please authenticate and I will be happy to credit, or remove, as the circumstances dictate.

Thanks to

This story hasn’t yet been proven factual.


Forced to Sit Next to an Obnoxious Person