A video purportedly showing a man getting kicked off a Delta flight for speaking in Arabic went viral Wednesday morning, an assertion complicated by the fact that the man is a YouTube celebrity known for perpetuating viral hoaxes.
The video, shot and posted on Twitter by known prankster Adam Saleh, appears to show Delta Airlines representatives escorting Saleh off a plane. In the minute-and-a-half clip, Saleh says he was removed from the New York-bound flight because “We spoke a different language,” and tells a group of passengers yelling “bye” and waving at him that they’re “racist.” Only one man speaks up for Saleh and his friend; the other passengers look down or away from the camera. In a second video, filmed on Periscope and posted to Twitter, a tearful Saleh goes into more detail about “17 white people” who he says asked the flight attendants to remove him from the plane.
“We were on that plane right there. They kicked us out off the plane because we spoke Arabic and a lot of people felt uncomfortable. I was talking to my mom in Arabic then I spoke to Slim in Arabic and they kicked us out,” Salah said. “Then I pulled out my camera, I recorded everything, and they stopped saying what they were going to say. And now we’re literally off the plane because I spoke Arabic. I swear on my mom’s—I swear on my own head—I’ll die if I’m joking. I’m not even exaggerating, this is literally what the heck happened.”
In a statement, Delta confirmed two customers had been removed from a plane and rebooked on a different flight “after a disturbance in the cabin resulted in more than 20 customers expressing their discomfort.”
The airline added: “We’re conducting a full review to understand what transpired. We are taking allegations of discrimination very seriously; our culture requires treating others with respect.”
On Twitter, Saleh says Delta brought police to interview him before ultimately rebooking him on a different flight operated by a different airline. According to his Twitter timeline, he is currently in the air on the way to New York.
But Saleh, who is known for videos like “Killer Clown Prank Gone Wrong,” and a 2014 video he made about racial profiling that was later revealed to be a hoax, made headlines just last week for perpetuating a viral hoax against a different airline. In the video, posted to YouTube, Saleh pretends to stow away on a TigerAir flight by hiding himself in a checked suitcase.
The airline even went so far as to refute his claim, writing on Twitter, “Nice try Adam, but definitely a few inconsistencies with this vid, namely the fact we have footage of you boarding the plane!”
Saleh ultimately admitted the hoax in a comment appended to the video:
***To everyone who’s watching my videos for the first time. If you watch my previous vlogs, I said I’ll be doing a prank on my viewers. This video was the PRANK and I was supposed to reveal it when I was in NYC. But this video ended up making international news and spreading more than what I expected. I really didn’t know it would seriously make headlines because so many youtubers have done this as a joke. I apologize to anyone I got mad. It was supposed to be a prank for my viewers but it spread to people who don’t even watch my videos. Much LOVE! xx
As of publication time, Saleh did not return requests for comment sent to his management group, the only point of contact listed on his social media pages. According to BuzzFeed, Saleh’s manager says this latest video was “as real as it gets.”