A HOLIDAYMAKER claims he was a victim of racial discrimination after he tried to return a lost iPhone – and was accused of stealing it.
Hemen Karim, who has lived in Sheffield for 16 years and is originally from Iraq, was flying home from a holiday in Morrocco when he found the phone in departures.
After approaching a few travellers to see if the phone was theirs, Hemen, 38, decided to hang on to the phone until he arrived in Gatwick.
During the flight the phone was reported missing and Hemen handed it back to a very happy passenger via an equally pleased flight attendant.
But Hemen claims he was then confronted by a TUI manager who accused him of stealing the mobile.
Hemen, who travelled in May this year, has now received a qualified from TUI, which recently took over the Thomson name. The company apologised for his upset but denies racial discrimination.
Hemen said: “If I’d passed it to staff in Agadir that woman would never have got her phone back. It was an expensive iPhone and it would’ve had pictures from the holiday and all of her contacts.
“So I was going to ask people in the plane and if not I would pass it to staff in Gatwick.”
He said the manager who accused him of theft “didn’t want to listen”.
“He was proper angry, I don’t know if he has anger issues or something. I looked around and I was the only Asian person on the plane so I felt like he targeted me. He made me feel proper uncomfortable and I had just tried to help somebody,” he said.
“There was no other reason for him to humiliate me.”
Six months after complaing, TUI sent an email stating: “I am very sorry that you were disappointed with our previous reply, and that this remains a source of disappointment for you. It was a genuine and open apology for the upset you experienced.
“I do understand that you felt really uncomfortable and embarrassed because of the staff member Greg on the flight. Let me offer you my sincere apologies on this occasion.”
They continued: “Your comments in regards to the rudeness shown…has been passed on and is being taken very seriously. I am sorry for any disappointment caused but there is nothing further we can do.”
Asked to respond to the allegations, a TUI Airways spokesperson said: “We’re sorry to hear if Mr Karim was unhappy with the way he feels he was spoken to, however, we have a zero tolerance approach to discriminatory behaviour of any kind.
“Our crew simply wanted to remind him, as they would with any customer, of the right way to report lost property to protect everyone involved.
“If anyone finds lost property, we encourage customers to hand it in to a member of staff to record it and help it be returned to its rightful owner as quickly as possible.”