Irish budget carrier Ryanair has instituted a new policy for South African travelers which includes a knowledge test administered in Afrikaans. Ryanair claims this comes in response to a fraudulent passport warning from the South African government, but the nature of the questions and choice of the Afrikaans language has led to outrage.
Ryanair Now Requires South African Passengers To Pass Afrikaans Test Or Be Denied Boarding To UK and Ireland
The test applies to all passengers who are traveling to the United Kingdom or Ireland with a South African passport. Those passengers are presented with a 15-question written test in Afrikaans at the airport and must pass it or be denied boarding.
A spokesperson told The Guardian:
“Due to the high prevalence of fraudulent South African passports, we require passengers travelling to the UK to fill out a simple questionnaire issued in Afrikaans. If they are unable to complete this questionnaire, they will be refused travel and issued with a full refund.”
That is quite a policy, especially considering Afrikaans is not the most common (or even second most common) language spoken in South Africa homes:
- Zulu – 22.7%
- Xhosa – 16%
- Afrikaans – 13.5%
- English – 9.6%
Furthermore, the knowledge test includes questions like naming the:
- Capital city
- Country dialing code
- Tallest mountain
If South Africans are at all like Americans, I think many would fail that test…
And some are drawing implications by the fact that Afrikaans was enforced upon citizens during the Apartheid era.
@Ryanair is restricting the movement of South African people based on whether or not they speak the language of the white Afrikaans minority. Not a good look. Pretty racist. https://t.co/xcIOIzYxAb pic.twitter.com/ig88PrSiwM
— Fred Raybould (@FredRaybould) June 5, 2022
The UK has confirmed this is not a government requirement:
— UK in South Africa🇬🇧 (@ukinsouthafrica) June 3, 2022
It is unclear how strict Ryanair is in practice, but the quote above sounds very strict…and absolutely unreasonably punitive.
Perhaps before denying passage to South Africans who cannot speak Afrikaans, Ryanair should just closely examine passports and ID cards. Some passengers report being denied boarding despite having a biometric European Union ID card to accompany their passports. While probably well-intended, the new Ryanair policy is absolutely crazy.