Kwane Bantu, who is 65 and suffers from both cancer and diabetes, claimed he was handcuffed, hog-tied and covered in a blanket, and generally treated in an extremely inhumane manner.
Indications are that flight BA2263 from Gatwick London to Kingston, Jamaica was diverted to a Portuguese island after a fracas on board.
This was after about an hour into the scheduled 14-hour flight, when Bantu, on a mission to visit family in Jamaica, reportedly became dizzy and saw one of his legs swelling.
His response, he said, was to seek to move to business class to get more leg room, but his efforts drew a physical response which he never would have anticipated.
The senior citizen said he was “ambushed” by six members of the airline’s staff, who tied him up by his hands and feet before allegedly dragging him back to his seat in the economy section.
“I was just trying to get some room to stretch my leg,” he told MailOnline. “But nobody was helping me. They refused to listen about my medical illness and what I was going through. I was treated like a slave.”
A fellow passenger, Joy Stoney, a businesswoman from Yorkshire, was reportedly thrown off the flight alongside Bantu, and both were allegedly abandoned on the Portuguese island of Terceira.
What’s worse, Stoney told MailOnline how stewards told him to “defecate in his seat” when he told them he needed to use the toilet.
Bantu said his feet, shoulders and arms were tied and he was left in his seat.
“I was completely humiliated; my human rights had been taken away from me. I didn’t even have the energy to fight them because my blood pressure would have gone even higher.
“I don’t think I deserved that kind of behaviour. I can understand if they thought I was going to be violent, but (the restraints) stopped my blood from circulating.
“It’s when some of the other passengers expressed their concern for me that they stopped the plane and landed to kick us out,” said Bantu
Stoney said she intervened after she saw staff members dragging Bantu, who had inquired about how much a seat in business class costs, through the plane by his neck.
“The way they restrained him was absolutely preposterous,” said Stoney.
“They restrained him by his shoulders via his neck and hands with straps. His ankles were strapped and on top of everything, they handcuffed him.
“What alarmed me the most was when he wanted to urinate. I know from caring for my mother that if you restrain a diabetic like that, they’re going to need the toilet.
“He was holding his crotch area for a while and it was horrible to see. I called the steward manager to come see me, and told her I would escort him to the toilet myself.
“They said, ‘He needs to defecate himself in the chair’, and I think that is utterly inhumane.”
Both Bantu and Stoney were later interviewed by Portuguese police and released, and are now reportedly stranded on the island trying to get back to the UK.
The official position of British Airways so far is that Bantu was removed from the flight because he was “unruly”.
“The British Airways flight from London Gatwick to Kingston today (April 26) was delayed due to an unruly customer. The aircraft was diverted to Praia de Vitoria, an island off Portugal due to the disruptive passenger. The airline is sorry for the delay to our customers’ journeys,” the airline said in a statement, adding “Our pilots and cabin crew are looking after our customers and we will get them to Jamaica as quickly as we can.”
The incident has thrown British Airways into the recent public spotlight on airline treatment of dissenting passengers. US-based Delta Airlines has been chastised for throwing passenger Kima Hamilton off a flight for using the toilet during a 30-minute delay when the plane was still on the tarmac.
The airline has come under further scrutiny following the death of a prized rabbit on a flight to London.
And United Airlines recently drew mass outrage after footage showed a bloodied passenger, Dr David Dao, being dragged from an overbooked flight from which he was ‘bumped’ by force to accommodate airline staff.
FEATURED IMAGE: Kwame Bantu (left) claims he was kicked off BA flight after demanding an upgrade.