The NAACP Issued A Travel Advisory Following An Investigation After Several Claims Of Discrimination By American Airlines Employees, Representatives Of The Airline And NAACP Meet
by Heather Cassell
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People issued a travel advisory warning for African Americans traveling on American Airlines citing a pattern of “disrespectful” and “discriminatory” behavior by airline employees October 24.
The warning suggests that American Airlines’ has a “corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias.”
The advisory issued late Tuesday will remain in effect until representatives of the airline resolve the issues raised by the NAACP.
Heads of the airline and the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, founded in 1909, met at American Airlines headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas at the airlines’ invitation to discuss the issue October 26, reports CNBC.
The NAACP highlights four separate incidents where African American travelers claimed they were discriminated against while flying with the airline that claims to be “Going for Great” in its tagline.
Three of the four discriminatory incidents noted by the NAACP involved black women.
The incidents involved:
An African American woman who booked first-class tickets for her travel companion, a white woman, and herself. The black woman was assigned coach seating at the ticket counter on the day of travel. The woman’s white travel companion remained assigned to her first-class seat.
In another incident, a pilot directed the crew to remove an African American woman from a flight from Miami to New York after she complained about a seating assignment changed she didn’t give consent.
Then there was the black woman who was removed from a flight from Atlanta to New York with her infant child when she asked the airline staff to have her stroller retrieved from checked baggage before she would disembark. Incidentally, the woman was a Harvard Law School student, according to the release.
The NAACP declined to reveal the passengers’ names, but described each episode in detail, reports the New York Times. The Times identified the individuals – Rane Baldwin, Tamika Mallory and Briana Williams – from news reports between April 2016 and October 2017 and confirmed with them that they were the individuals mentioned by the NAACP in the release.
Rane was sent to the back of the plane when her first-class ticket wasn’t honored, but her white friend’s first-class ticket was honored.
Tamika is the co-chair of the Women’s March who was removed by the crew from her Miami flight to New York.
Briana is the Harvard Law School student who was ordered off the plane with her infant following an argument over her stroller.
Briana believes the pilot’s actions are racially motivated based on the language he used with her referring to her as “belligerent” and “a threat,” even while she held her daughter in in her arms, reports the Times.
“All travelers must be guaranteed the right to travel without fear of threat, violence or harm,” says Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP. “The growing list of incidents suggesting racial bias reflects an unacceptable corporate culture and involves behavior that cannot be dismissed as normal or random.”
“In light of these confrontations, we have today taken the action of issuing national advisory alerting travelers—especially African Americans—to exercise caution,” adds Derrick. “Booking and boarding flights on American Airlines could subject them disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions.”
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 has been monitoring incidents reported by black travelers while flying American Airlines, according to Tuesday’s news release announcing the travel advisory.
“The NAACP deplores such alarming behavior on the part of airline personnel,” says Derrick pointing out that the organization is only aware of these incidents because the passengers knew their rights.
American Airlines spokeswoman Shannon Gilson tells the New York Times that the company’s employees are “disappointed” to learn about the advisory.
“Every day American is committed to providing a positive, safe travel experience for everyone who flies with us,” says Shannon.
American Airlines Chief Executive Doug Parker sent a message to the airline’s employees emphasizing that the company’s mission is in line with the NAACP and that, “we do not and will not tolerate discrimination of any kind.”
“We fly over borders, walls and stereotypes to connect people from different races, religions, nationalities, economic backgrounds and sexual orientations. We make the world a smaller, more inclusive place. And we do it professionally and safely every day for more than 500,000 customers across five continents,” Doug opened the letter.
He called upon American Airlines’ employees to continue “doing the great and noble work you always do: treat our customers and each other with respect; connect diverse groups of people with each other and allow them to see the world,” reiterating professionalism and safety.
This is the second travel advisory issued by the NAACP this year. In August, the organization issued its first-ever travel advisory for a state, Missouri.
Derrick got the chance to “air these grievances” and “spur corrective action,” with executives at American Airlines Thursday.
Following the meeting, Doug told CNBC, “Discrimination, exclusion and unconscious biases are enormous problems that no one’s mastered and we would never suggest that we have it all figured out.”
Heads of the NAACP didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC following the meeting.
On Wednesday, Shannon told the Times, “We are committed to having a meaningful dialogue about our airline, and are ready to both listen and engage.”
American Airlines hadn’t noticed a decline in bookings by Thursday, Doug tells CNBC.
The airline’s shares were down more than 2 percent in midday trading Thursday. Competitors Delta and United airlines shares were down 1 percent and nearly unchanged, respectively, reports the the media outlet.
The NAACP encouraged others who feel they’ve been discriminated against when traveling on American Airlines to contact them.
Book your next romantic getaway to the Caribbean with Girls That Roam Travel. Contact Heather Cassell at Girls That Roam Travel at 415-517-7239 or at .
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