NAACP Issues National Travel Advisory for American Airlines

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(Tamika Mallory, former executive director of NAN, reports being thrown off an American Airlines flight from Miami to NY.)

On the heels of several incidents of racial bias reported by African American travelers this year, the NAACP issued the following statement:

“The NAACP for several months now has been monitoring a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African-American passengers, specific to American Airlines. In light of these confrontations, we have today taken the action of issuing national advisory alerting travelers—especially African Americans—to exercise caution, in that booking and boarding flights on American Airlines could subject them disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions. This travel advisory is in effect beginning today, October 24, 2017, until further notice.

The series of recent incidents involve troublesome conduct by American Airlines and they suggest a corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias on the part of American Airlines. Among these incidents:

1. An African-American man was required to relinquish his purchased seats aboard a flight from Washington, D.C. to Raleigh-Durham, merely because he responded to disrespectful and discriminatory comments directed toward him by two unruly white passengers;

2. Despite having previously booked first-class tickets for herself and a traveling companion, an African-American woman’s seating assignment was switched to the coach section at the ticket counter, while her white companion remained assigned to a first-class seat;

3. On a flight bound for New York from Miami, the pilot directed that an African-American woman be removed from the flight when she complained to the gate agent about having her seating assignment changed without her consent; and

4. An African-American woman and her infant child were removed from a flight from Atlanta to New York City when the woman (incidentally a Harvard Law School student) asked that her stroller be retrieved from checked baggage before she would disembark.
The NAACP deplores such alarming behavior on the part of airline personnel, and we are aware of these incidents only because the passengers involved knew their rights, knew to speak up and exercised the courage to do so promptly. Historically, the NAACP has issued travel advisories when conditions on the ground pose a substantial risk of harm to black Americans, and we are concerned today that the examples cited herein may represent only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ when it comes to American Airlines’ documented mistreatment of African-American customers.”

The NAACP deplores such alarming behavior on the part of airline personnel, and we are aware of these incidents only because the passengers involved knew their rights, knew to speak up and exercised the courage to do so promptly. Historically, the NAACP has issued travel advisories when conditions on the ground pose a substantial risk of harm to black Americans, and we are concerned today that the examples cited herein may represent only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ when it comes to American Airlines’ documented mistreatment of African-American customers.”

Tamika Mallory, former executive director of the National Action Network and one of the women who cited racial bias on an American Airlines flight from Miami to NY, said she was thrown off of her flight after a disagreement with a gate agent. After the disagreement had ended and she was settled in her seat, the pilot called her to the front of the plane at which time she was removed from the flight.

“We are disappointed to hear about this travel advisory as our team members – a diverse community of gate agents, pilots, and flight attendants – are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds,” American Airlines said in a statement. “Every day American is committed to providing a positive, safe travel experience for everyone who flies with us.”

The airline went on the say that it intended to invite NAACP members to the company’s headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, to discuss further.