The devastated mum at the centre of a Qantas in-flight race row has detailed the shocking lead-up – and aftermath – to the moment she realised the passenger in front of her was writing a racist text message about her baby boy.
Sally Fifita had just sat down with one-year-old son Carter on the QF158 flight from Auckland to Melbourne on Sunday evening when a man, realising he was sitting in front of a little boy, shot her a fierce glare.
Ms Fifita then saw him describe her to a friend as a ‘fat Islander woman’ and her son as a ‘black kid kicking me’ in a text he was writing on his mobile phone.
Ms Fifita angrily confronted the passenger before he hastily tried to delete the incriminating message and deny the accusations, she said.
‘He will always regret what he did and I hope that he will always remember the mother who only wanted to just get home with her son,’ she said.
‘God bless his ugly a** soul.’
The devastated mum at the centre of a Qantas in-flight race row has cursed the passenger who blasted her son in a racist text to forever live with the hurt he caused (pictured is the text)
Sally Fifita (pictured on their 2021 wedding day with husband Siale who had flown home for work a week earlier) angrily confronted the passenger before he hastily tried to delete the text
Sally Fifita was travelling home with one-year-old son Carter (pictured on the QF158 flight from Auckland to Melbourne on Sunday night) when the air-rage storm erupted
The horrified mother said she had tried her best to minimise the impact of her young son on fellow passengers and had strapped him in to stop him kicking the seat in front.
But the passenger in front was already irate before the pair had even sat down, she said.
I just hope he doesn’t kick my seat the whole way
The brief comment the old man made after taking his seat
‘I was already dreading this flight back alone with my toddler,’ she said.
‘As soon as we found our seats and we were trying to settle in, this man turns around, looks at my son, and shook his head.
‘Confused as to why he looked back, I asked him if something was wrong and he replied ,’I just hope he doesn’t kick my seat the whole way’.
‘I looked at my son and he was not even kicking his seat because he was meant to sit on me instead of his own seat.’
She said she moved her son into his own window seat and put his seatbelt on with the toddler’s feet barely reaching the edge of the cushion.
‘Just as we were about to fly, he turns around again saying, ‘Can he stop kicking?” Ms Fifita revealed.
‘I was so frustrated and told him he can’t even reach his seat and maybe he should’ve paid for business class or his own plane if he didn’t want a child behind him.
‘Then as we were in the air I could see what he was texting… this old man writing racial messages.
‘After taking a photo, absolutely stunned, [you] best believe I confronted him – even if I was making a scene.
‘I feel as though the whole interaction had nothing to do with my son ‘kicking’ his chair but merely something to do of how we looked with his racial comments.’
Ms Fifita said the exchange left her ‘tired, frustrated and mad’ and she fled to the back of the plane to calm down and spoke to flight attendants as they returned.
The attendants then asked others to swap seats with the mother and son to get them away from the other traveller.
When they eventually found a father travelling with his teenage son willing to exchange seats, the man then tried to make a grovelling apology.
‘The flight attendant saw how distraught I was,’ Ms Fifita said. ‘We moved seats to the back.
‘The man told the flight attendant he wanted to come say sorry as he felt bad the whole plane ride and she told him she didn’t think it was appropriate.’
Ms Fifita gave her heartfelt thanks to the flight attendants and the family who swapped seats with them to defuse the situation – but says other passengers ignored the request.
She added: ‘If you see anything like that, I hope you are not a bystander like the many people on that flight who didn’t bother to help or do anything.’
Ms Fifita says she will never fly without her husband Siale by her side again after he had flown home alone earlier in the week for work.
Sally Fifita told a flight attendant about the incident, who then moved the pair to different seats at the back of the plane (pictured)
Sally Fifita says she will never fly without her husband Siale (pictured together) again
But despite the clash, she says it has not put her off travelling again.
‘We’re glad to be home safe and can’t wait for our next flight in the near future,’ she added.
Social media users were quick to sympathise with the woman.
‘Your so brave, even in tears you still the bigger person who stood up for yourself against such bullying and racism,’ one wrote.
‘Traveling with a toddler is hard and that punk made it worst for you!’ another said.
‘I’m so sorry you had to go through that sis, my gosh the audacity this man has,’ a third commented.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Qantas for comment.