Delta is pushing back at claims by a New York man with a large social media following that he was kicked off a flight from London's Heathrow Airport to New York because passengers got uneasy when he started speaking Arabic.
York Adam Saleh said he was talking to his mom on the phone in Arabic while the plane was at the gate. He then shot video of staff escorting him off the plane.
"I was speaking to my mom on the phone like I always do before getting on a flight. 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," Saleh says in a statement. "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!"
Earlier Wednesday, Delta said that it took "allegations of discrimination very seriously." But later, after interviewing the crew and several passengers of the plane, Delta said that Saleh, a noted YouTube video star and prankster, and his friend were shouting and trying to "disrupt" the cabin.
"Based on the information collected to date, it appears the customers who were removed sought to disrupt the cabin with provocative behavior, including shouting," Delta said in a statement. "This type of conduct is not welcome on any Delta flight. While one, according to media reports, is a known prankster who was video recorded and encouraged by his traveling companion, what is paramount to Delta is the safety and comfort of our passengers and employees. It is clear these individuals sought to violate that priority."
Saleh's video, which he posted to Twitter, was retweeted more than 700,000 times.
He said police were called to interview him and then was rebooked on another airline back to New York after another security check.
After returning to New York, Saleh insisted to reporters that what happened was not part of a social media hoax or prank. He said that in his culture, people speak loudly and make big gestures with their hands.
Saleh has 1.6 million YouTube subscribers and 267,000 Twitter followers. He is best known for prank videos, some of which involve airlines.