YouTube Star Says He Was Booted From Flight For Speaking Arabic

Adam Saleh's video of him being escorted from a Delta airlines flight in London went viral in just a few short hours

Dec 21, 2016 at 10:06 AM ET

An American YouTube star’s claim that he was kicked off a Delta flight for speaking Arabic on Wednesday went viral, triggering outrage and calls to boycott the airline but also raising questions as to whether the incident was a planned publicity stunt.

Adam Saleh, whose video pranks and hoaxes have earned him millions of followers online, recorded and published a clip that shows him and a friend being escorted off the aircraft, which was traveling from London to New York. During the incident, the 23-year-old says that passengers “felt uncomfortable” and called flight attendants after they heard him speaking Arabic while on the phone with his mother. In less than four hours, the video had generated more than 215,000 retweets on Twitter. A version published on Saleh’s Facebook account had been viewed by more than 6 million people, shared 197,000 times, and generated over 28,000 comments.


“I can not believe my eyes. I can not believe it,” says Saleh in the video, which pans to show a passengers and flight attendants caught up in the commotion. “I spoke a word — a different language — and you feel uncomfortable?”

The YouTube personality, who has more than 2.2 million subscribers on one of his channel, added: “I’m about to cry right now. Seriously.” Saleh continued. “It’s six white people against us bearded men.”

Livid social media users condemned the alleged incident as racial profiling and lashed out at the airline, with thousands using the hashtag #BoycottDelta on Twitter. Others, however, remained skeptical given Saleh’s notoriety as a YouTube prankster. Saleh previously created a viral video that claimed to show a New York City police officer racially profiling two Muslim men, which was later revealed to be a hoax. And last week, he posted a video — watched more than 700,000 times — that  purported to show him smuggling himself inside a suitcase during a flight from Melbourne to Sydney. That was also fake.

After being removed from the flight, Saleh continued to post updates on the incident and did not back down from the claim that he was racially profiled. A spokesman for the YouTube star also told BuzzFeed News that the scene was not staged.

Delta released a statement on Wednesday saying that “two customers” were taken off the flight and later rebooked after “a disturbance in the cabin resulted in more than 20 customers expressing their discomfort.”

“We’re conducting a full review to understand what transpired,” the statement said. “We are taking allegations of discrimination very seriously; our culture requires treating others with respect.”