Police Search Apple Employee’s Underwear Looking for iPhone Stolen on British Airways Flight

On a March 22nd British Airways London – Barcelona flight a man was accused by another passenger of stealing an iPhone.

The man was searched on the flight. He showed what was in his pockets. He didn’t have the iPhone.

Nonetheless the aircraft was met by 7 officers armed with machine guns on arrival in Barcelona. That search didn’t just involve his pockets, he was forced “to turn out” his underwear. His two travel companions were searched as well. Nothing was found. But no one has apologized.

Two salient facts about the man.

  • He was the only black man on the plane.

  • He doesn’t need another passenger’s iPhone, as it happens he works for Apple.

According to British Airways, “The allegation of theft was made by one of our customers and at their request we reported it to the police.”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. playing the race card is completely counterproductive to any concept of racial equality. this man is not only racially profiling the whole flight, but he is basically asserting that bad things happen to a black person only as a result of racism, and that all white people are racist.

  2. @Pafunco

    Yes. You should be upset that people are being abused and singled out on account of their race in 2018. It was despicable 100 years ago and it’s worse that it still is.

  3. @Pafunco I am sick of racism also. It’s ridiculous that in 2018 people are still discriminating against others for their race. This stuff needs to be reported and I love that Gary brings up these kinds of stories about race as it relates to travel. People, especially white people, need to acknowledge that racism still exists and they need to take more responsibility for ending it.

  4. Would a full body scan reveal the item? Or a metal detector wand?
    Even if I didn’t have the iPod, the machine guns pointed at me would have done the trick. Like a magician, with 7 loaded machine guns looking at me, i would have produced an iPhone XI, XII, XIII, and any other iPhone the guy thought he lost. The real culprit probably ditched it. When they finally figure out they can just call the number, I bet you a garbage can starts singing the Verizon ring tone.
    And if it’s been collected already, well I hope the janitor has an explanation ready or he will have a mess to clean up when those machine guns are pointed at him.

  5. How absurd for the Apple employee to claim that race played any role in his being wrongly accused and searched in a humiliating way (Barcelona has metal detectors b/t/w). We all know racism is merely a figment of the imagination and doesn’t actually exist anywhere.

  6. @JC “and that all white people are racist.”

    Umm, no, that’s your silly projection. He pointed out a fact. Yes, facts still matter. He was the only black person. He was accused of theft. He was not guilty of any theft. It is a fair assumption that his race had something to do with him being accused. Maybe it is the wrong assumption. Even so, it is a fair assumption. You have no clue what it is like to be accused of wrongdoing on account of your skin color. Have a bit of empathy.

  7. Wow. The comments here. Just wow. In what universe would this have been a reasonable response? Phones are metal. There was absolutely no reason for a naked body search except to humiliate the accused. However, one need only read a few headlines to realize that the folks in charge of security usually don’t make rational decisions that scale properly to the situation.

  8. Race is salient because there is bias against black people in our society. Bias exists because a disproportionate number of blacks are arrested, charged, and incarcerated compared to their representation of the population. They DO NOT COMMIT MORE OF THE CRIMES than white people. However they are harassed and sometimes wrongfully jailed because of it. Just I wonder how many white people have gotten away with crimes but the police pinned it on a black person.

  9. @Ray – “People, especially white people, need to acknowledge that racism still exists and they need to take more responsibility for ending it.” Do Muslims need to take more responsibility for speaking up against Islamic terrorists? Or Christians against Christian terrorists?

  10. He was the only black person, and his non-black friends were also searched. How could that possibly be racist?

  11. ALL of the above people crying about race as an excuse are probably WHITE!.

    Are many of you going to be in for a surprise soon, and then you will all be crying over how you lived such a narrow minded ignorant life without feelings for others. The truth is worse than you think.

    Good luck to you all!

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