Richard Branson writes a heartfelt letter after Virgin airline staffers were accused of racism

Richard bransonGareth Cattermole/GettyVirgin Group founder Richard Branson.

Richard Branson just posted a heartfelt letter on Virgin Group‘s website about the dangers associated with knee jerk reactions to things posted on social media.

The billionaire tycoon and social media mainstay wrote the letter in reaction to an alleged racist incident that took place on a Virgin Atlantic flight earlier this month.

According media reports, a Chinese passenger onboard Virgin Atlantic Flight VS250 on March 1 reported being racially abused by a Caucasian male.

According to the Chinese passenger, who refers to herself as Liu Wei, the male passenger reportedly called her an “F-ing Chinese pig” and to “Get the f–k out of here.”

Liu then claims that the Virgin Atlantic’s cabin crew threatened to throw her off the flight instead coming to her aid. 

Miss Liu then posted her account of the incident on Chinese social media platform Weibo. Her post has gone viral resulting in Virgin Atlantic’s social media account flooded with post from Chinese users demand the airline apologise for its behaviour. 

Since the airline was in the process of conducting an investigation of the incident, it could not provide a detailed account on the social. This lead to further anger from the Chinese user who believed the company was discounting their demands.

After concluding the their investigation, Virgin Atlantic issued the following statement concerning the incident.

“We deeply regret the unpleasant experience our customer had on this flight. We have fully investigated this incident by speaking with those involved, fellow customers and the cabin crew present. We understand that there was an altercation between two customers on board the flight, which resulted in both individuals becoming upset and distressed. Upon noticing the argument, our cabin crew did their best to resolve the situation by suggesting that they could relocate the female customer and her male travelling companion following take off, and the passenger later relocated of her own accord. We would like to reiterate that Virgin Atlantic takes a zero tolerance approach to racism.”

Yesterday, Virgin founder Richard Branson weighed in on the incident with an apologetic tweet posted in both Chinese and English. That was followed up with today’s letter.

“The superfast age of social media and hyper-connectivity brings with it an enormous range of benefits,” Branson wrote in the letter. “But as social media expands, we also have to be careful about how it is used.”

Branson then gave his Airline’s account of the incident following an investigation which indicates that a female passenger and a male passenger suffering from Parkinson’s diease were involved in an altercation. The crew of the flight from the London to Shanghai continued without incident. 

Branson continues, “Before the team was able to fully investigate the incident, one side of the story was already being shared widely online, and is generating headlines in news publications as well as social networks. This has resulted in allegations of racism.”

Unfortunately, the result of the knee jerk internet anger has resulted in airline staff being abused online. 

“Sometimes the consequences of jumping to conclusions can have a significant impact,” Branson wrote. “In this case on crew members who were doing their job and have received an enormous amount of abuse online.”

Branson closes the letter by imploring those who are as keen on social media as he is to practice moderation in the way they reaction to the thing they see on the internet.

“I love posting on social media and will continue to do so, and encourage everybody to share, listen and learn from each other online. But before you post send a tweet or post a comment, ask yourself if you would be happy to say that to someone face to face. It is a great leveller and may prevent you shooting from the hip and saying something you will later regret. That way, we can all gain a lot more from interacting online in a productive and inclusive way.”

Click here to read the Richard Branson’s complete letter.

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