American Airlines Vowed To Improve Customer And Employee Relations Regarding Diversity Amid NAACP Travel Advisory Fallout

by Heather Cassell

American Airline employees will have to undergo mandatory anti-discrimination and ongoing implicit-bias training starting at the beginning of 2018, the airline announced.

The airline also announced other changes upgrading its internal anti-discrimination education and discrimination reporting and policies for both customers and employees.

The announcement follows the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People travel advisory issued against American Airlines October 24 following complaints made to the civil rights organization by some Black travelers.

Less than a month since the travel advisory was issued, the NAACP received approximately 600 calls and an additional nearly 200 online reports from travelers and some of the airline’s employees expressing concern about alleged racially discriminatory and racially-biased treatment by the airline.

The organization received 50 additional calls from and a separate report form that included 12 current and past American Airline employees testifying about discrimination and racial issues within the airline, according to a November 17 news release.

Two of the five new examples of experiences expressed to the NAACP came from Black women, one an American Airlines flight attendant and the other a traveler.

A Black female flight attendant claimed she was routinely seated in the back of the plane, separate from her fellow white flight attendants when flying standby.

American Airlines Black women flight attendants
American Airlines Black women flight attendants (Photo: Courtesy of Pintrest)

A young Black woman flying on American Airlines who told the organization that she was asked to deboard the plane, so a white man’s dog could have her seat.

However, the airline wasn’t alone. Eight people claimed inappropriate treatment aboard three other unnamed major airlines and one bus company, the organization stated in the release.

The NAACP hasn’t dropped its travel advisory. The organization continues to gather testimonies addressing racial discrimination and prejudice at American Airlines and other travel companies, the organization stated.

“This is a good start to changing internal processes that allow for discrimination, racism, and implicit bias to continue to exist within companies,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson, said in a news release, but the organization wants to ensure American Airlines follows through on promises. “We think that the steps taken by American Airlines, if fully implemented, will not only change the way they engage their customers and employees but will serve as a model for other companies.”

“We think we’re on the right road, but the NAACP will continue to meet with Doug Parker and other senior‎ American Airline[s] employees to ensure that the company walks the walk as well as it talks the talk,” Derrick added telling The Root.

American Airlines immediately met with the civil rights organization’s leaders following the travel advisory to begin correcting the situation within the airline and for its customers.

In November, the NAACP was joined in diversity meetings by leaders from the Black Women’s Roundtable, Justice League NYC, the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, and the Women’s March as well as attorney Royce Russell with American Airlines to discuss four specific actions American Airlines is taking to make our airline a more diverse and inclusive company, the airline said in a statement last week.

Tamika Mallory, an African-American woman and one of the co-founders of the 2017 Women’s March, was one of the original black women who raised the issue to the NAACP when she was removed from her flight from Miami to New York earlier this year.

To address the airline’s discrimination and diversity issues, American Airlines stated it has hired an independent firm to conduct a nine-month holistic in-depth review of the company.

Black woman traveling
Black woman traveling (Photo: Courtesy of

All 120,000 of the airline’s team members will undergo mandatory anti-discrimination training and ongoing implicit-bias training. Additionally, the airline stated it would refresh its conflict resolution training and education around its anti-discrimination policies, according to the release. Internal oversight and resolutions of discrimination complaints and policies and accountability will also be strengthened.

The airline will also upgrade its customer complaint procedures for its nearly 200 million customers every year. It will also create a new customer resolution team that will specialize in discrimination complaints. Complaints will be responded to by a specialist within 48-hours and investigations will be expedited, the airline said.

Complaints will be used to improve policies and procedures, the airline added.

“It is our intention to reflect on the experiences our team members and customers have shared, and lead our airline forward to create a more inclusive society,” the airline stated in the release.

“We are proud of the diversity and inclusion initiatives already in place at American, but we know we can do even better. So we viewed the feedback as an opportunity,” CEO Doug Parker wrote in a letter to staff, reported KTLA-TV.

American Airlines’ intent is to set a new standard and become a leader in diversity, the airline stated in the release.

Book your next getaway with Girls That Roam Travel. Contact Heather Cassell at Girls That Roam Travel at 415-517-7239 or at .

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