The unnamed woman was wearing a baseball cap with the word “f***” emblazoned on it when she boarded the aircraft, before being asked to remove it by cabin crew.
In a video shared on social media, the captain of the plane was filmed speaking to the woman.
“Here’s your two options,” he says. “You can take the hat off, like the flight attendant’s told you to do, which I had told her to tell you, or you’ll be off the flight. Tell me now which one it is.”
The woman asks where the rule regarding offensive clothing is “posted”, and the pilot responds: “I’m the captain of the aeroplane, that’s where it’s posted. Delta has guidelines and I don’t have to explain them to you.”
The captain adds: “It is inappropriate and I’m not going to take vulgar language on the flight, verbal or written.”
The woman had already removed the hat by the time the pilot was summoned to talk to her; she moves the camera several times to show that it is sitting in her lap.
However, she ignored the captain’s request that she promise not to wear the cap for the entirety of the flight.
“Tell me it’s off for the entire flight,” he says. “So you agree not to wear it or post that hat the entire flight, is that correct?”
The woman does not agree, but can be heard repeatedly responding, “the hat is in my lap.”
“I need your word,” he says. Another passenger can be heard weighing in, saying, “Just say you will”.
The woman replies: “Sir, you’re playing games. You asked me to take it off, I took it off.”
Eventually the captain says: “OK, I said enough. You wouldn’t give me your word.”
Although Delta does not have a formal dress code, like many US airlines it has a clause in its conditions of carriage that states it can refuse to carry a passenger “when the passenger’s conduct, attire, hygiene or odor creates an unreasonable risk of offense or annoyance to other passengers.”
“Attire” that causes “offense” is therefore grounds for not letting someone travel.
The DC chapter of Black Live Matters shared the video on Twitter and accused the pilot of displaying “white privilege”.
“Captain Dennis Reilly berated and embarrassed a member of our community,” read the tweet. “This kind of white privilege should not be tolerated. We demand a public apology and that this pilot no longer be allowed to fly a Delta aircraft. #BlackLivesMatter #FlyingWhileBeingBlack #Delta”
Delta responded to the post: “Delta does not condone discrimination of a person or group for any reason. As a global carrier with a diverse workforce, serving a diverse customer base, we are committed to treating all passengers equally.”
It added: “Thank you for sharing your concern – we have followed up with those directly involved as we review the situation.”
A Delta spokesperson told The Independent: “There’s nothing more important than creating a safe environment onboard Delta planes and in our facilities. That's why we prohibit displaying profane or derogatory words or images, and our expectation is for customers and our people to treat each other with dignity and respect, always.
“Our Captain’s interaction with this customer reflects multiple layers of escalation to resolve the concerns with offensive language on a hat worn by the customer. Delta does not condone discrimination in any form.
“Our Captain immediately realized that not donning his mask was an oversight and has expressed his personal regret to Delta leaders. He also took it upon himself to seek out a Covid-19 test later that day. The test result is negative.”
This article originally appeared on The Independent