The Brussels Airport is one of the busiest airport in Europe. It is fast becoming a major transit center for travelers particularly to Sub-Saharan Africa. Being a major transfer center for passengers traveling to and from Africa, it would be expected that these passengers deserve nothing but equal treatment commensurate to what travelers to other destinations enjoy. Nevertheless, one cannot but be disgusted by the unfair, unjust, and prejudiced treatment meted to travelers to the Sub-Sahara African region at the Brussels Airport.

Travelers connecting flights at the airport to the sub region are not allowed to wait at the appropriate gates of their next flight like travelers to other regions and continents do. Passengers whose next destination is Sub-Saharan Africa – mostly black African – are driven to a location far away from the main terminals and gates where they are all stuffed together in one room. The seats in this room are limited causing most travelers to remain standing through the waiting period. Also, there is lack of proper air-conditioning system and the room is poorly lit. Passengers are expected to wait in this dehumanizing situation until their next flight is due before they are transported to the main terminals and gates by bus.

As if this structured racism is not enough, individuals kept in this room are deprived of adequate toilet facilities – only one restroom close by – which is usually overcrowded because of the high number of travelers kept in the room. The most discontenting part of all these is the ill-mannered airport staff positioned at the information desk. These individuals are very intolerant and launch out mordantly on passengers at the least provocation. It is also most palpable that the Brussels Airport is taking African travelers for granted and racially segmenting us for prejudice.

At the same airport, travelers to all other destinations aside from Sub-Saharan Africa can proceed directly to their respective gates to await their connecting flight. It is therefore unfair to treat travelers to Sub-Sahara Africa differently. I entreat the Brussels Airport Company N.V./S.A. to take steps to resolve this injustice. Brussels Airlines wrote on its website “With more than 80 years of experience working in Africa, the continent holds a special place in our hearts and our passion for Africa grows tremendously with each passing year”, and I would like to call on the airline to join in the effort of having fairness and dignity restored to Sub-Saharan African descents and other passengers traveling to the region.

The International and National Aviation Law also governs the operations of airports and makes provisions for keeping the industry fair and safe. The European Aviation Safety Agency should use its regulatory and executive authority to ensure Brussels Airport is in full compliance with the International and National Aviation Law, and if possible, the agency should recommend the enactment of a specific regulation to the European Commission to have this discriminatory practice rectified at Brussels Airport. Finally, I invite the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to promote a stiffer compliance of the aviation laws on fairness in the industry and ensure that Brussels Airport or any other institution perpetrating structural racism and injustice is brought to face the rigors of the industry governing laws.

Sub-Saharan Africans don’t ask for favors in the aviation world. We pay the same fares to fly, go through the same security checks and subject to the same aviation and immigration laws as passengers from other parts of the world, and therefore we must be accorded the same dignity and respect enjoyed by passengers of non-Sub-Sahara African destinations. We do not deserve to be quarantined in any secured room.

3 thoughts on “Structural racism at Brussels Airport”

  1. MF says:

    It is 2019, I am currently traveling through Brussels aiport to a sub-Saharan Africa destination and this is absolutely true! The worst are the ridiculously long lines (after having already gone through security check points) one has to endure to get to that waiting area for the shuttle to the T gates! This is unacceptable and maybe once enough travelers heading to the region opt for other less dehumanizing airport and airlines options, change will come to Brussels airport.

  2. Soturah says:

    It is 2020, and I had the same feeling. My wife and I were sitting waiting for our flight to The Gambia, when we were approached by a custom officer – looks like a middle eastern decent- . He asked us in a very demeaning tone, if we were together. I ignored him and put on my headphone and he worked away. I did not see him do that to white people, but he had been stopping a lot of Africans asking some racist questions and looking into the bags. We need to do something about these racist treatments at Brussels Airport.

  3. Alex says:

    This is 100% true. The last time I had an 8 hour Layover in Brussels on my way to Uganda from the US, I experienced this Blatant segregation. African travelers are bussed to a desolate part of the airport far away from all other travelers. It is appallingly racist and I have never experienced this kind of treatment traveling through Amsterdam. Shame on you, and I call on all my African Brothers and Sisters to boycott this racist country and their terrible Airline. I will never set foot in that country again.

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