American Airlines To Meet With NAACP To Discuss Claims Of Racial Bias

Image courtesy of Oliver Holzbauer

After the NAACP issued a travel advisory warning non-white travelers that their safety and well-being may be at risk when flying American Airlines, the social justice advocacy group and the airline will be meeting to discuss numerous claims of racial mistreatment.

“Exercise Caution”

In its advisory this week, the NAACP said that after monitoring for several months “a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African-American passengers, specific to American Airline,” the group was 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.”

The group went on to list some recently reported incidents, including a black man who was required to give up his purchased seats on a flight “merely because he responded to disrespectful and discriminatory comments directed toward him by two unruly white passengers” and a black woman and her infant child who were removed from an AA flight “asked that her stroller be retrieved from checked baggage before she would disembark.”

Other travelers have been documenting their experiences flying AA online, using the hashtags “#Happened2MeOnAA” and “#FlyingWhileBlack.”

The day after the NAACP issued its travel advisory, American CEO Doug Parker sent a letter [PDF] to employees saying that the airline has reached out to the NAACP, and “we are eager to meet with them to listen to their issues and concerns.”

“The mission statement of the NAACP states that it ‘seeks to remove all barriers of racial discrimination.’ That’s a mission that the people of American Airlines endorse and facilitate every day – we do not and will not tolerate discrimination of any kind.”

The NAACP tells the Dallas News that “wheels are in motion” to set up a formal discussion with AA soon. We’ve also reached out to the group for more information and will update this post if we receive a response.

Complaints Add Up

Bloomberg ran the numbers from the Department of Transportation’s Consumer Travel Reports, and found that American Airlines passengers have filed 29 complaints of racial discrimination from 2016 through Aug. 2017, the most of any U.S. airline in those 20 months. United Airlines was next with 17 complaints, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines both had nine complaints.

Earlier this month, a group of 30 civil rights organizations sent a letter to Southwest accusing the airline of racial profiling, reports the Dallas News, in response to a recent incident where a pregnant Pakistani woman was pulled from her seat after she told crew members she had a dog allergy.

While the airline claims the woman said she had a life-threatening allergy, and needed an EpiPen due to the presence of a dog on the flight, she denied ever saying either of those things.

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