Published on : Thursday, October 26, 2017
The N.A.A.C.P. on Tuesday asked African-Americans to be cautious when flying on American Airlines, citing a pattern of “disrespectful” and “discriminatory” behaviour from the company towards coloured folks.
The organization’s warning came in the form of a travel advisory that described four recent times when black passengers were said to have been discriminated against. The N.A.A.C.P. said the similarity of the episodes suggested “a corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias.”
Derrick Johnson, the N.A.A.C.P.’s new president, said that he expected to meet with airline leaders “to air these grievances and to spur corrective action.”
“All travellers must be guaranteed the right to travel without fear of threat, violence or harm,” he said in a statement. “The growing list of incidents suggesting racial bias reflects an unacceptable corporate culture and involves behaviour that cannot be dismissed as normal or random.”
The organization declined to name the passengers involved but described each episode in detail. They were the subject of news reports published between April 2016 and October 2017.
• The Rev. William Barber, who at the time was the president of the organization’s North Carolina chapter, was removed from a flight after exchanging words with two white passengers.
• Rane Baldwin, who had first class tickets, was moved to the back of a plane while her white friend was permitted to stay up front.
• Tamika Mallory, an activist and co-president of the Women’s March, was removed from a plane after questioning why her seat assignment had been changed.
• Briana Williams, a student at Harvard Law School, was ordered off a flight, along with her infant child, by the pilot after an argument over a stroller.
Ms. Baldwin, Ms. Mallory and Ms. Williams confirmed that the advisory referred to their experiences. Dr. Barber did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A spokeswoman for American Airlines said that the company was “disappointed” to learn of the advisory.
“Our team members — a diverse community of gate agents, pilots, and flight attendants — are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds,” the spokeswoman, Shannon Gilson, said in a statement. “Every day American is committed to providing a positive, safe travel experience for everyone who flies with us.”