NAACP warns black passengers about traveling with American Airlines
(CNN Money) — The NAACP is warning African-American travelers to be careful when they fly with American Airlines.
In an advisory late Tuesday, the organization said it has noticed “a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African-American passengers, specific to American Airlines.”
The NAACP cited four examples of black passengers who it said were forced to give up their seats or were removed from flights.
It said the incidents “suggest a corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias” and advised travelers to exercise caution.
“Booking and boarding flights on American Airlines could subject them [to] disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions,” the advisory said.
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said in a memo to staff that the company was “disappointed” to hear about the NAACP warning.
He said the airline has reached out to the NAACP to meet with them. NAACP President Derrick Johnson had called for a meeting with the airline’s leadership.
“We fly over borders, walls and stereotypes to connect people from different races, religions, nationalities, economic backgrounds and sexual orientations,” Parker wrote in the memo, which the company released to reporters. “We do not and will not tolerate discrimination of any kind.”
The NAACP described four examples.
In one, the NAACP said a black woman and her baby were removed from a flight from Atlanta to New York after she asked for their stroller to be retrieved from checked baggage before she left the plane.
A second allegation described an incident involving a black woman who had booked first-class tickets for herself and a white companion. At the ticket counter, the black woman was moved to coach, while her traveling partner was allowed to stay in first class, the NAACP said.
On a third flight from Washington, D.C., to Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, a black man was forced to give up his seat after he “responded to disrespectful and discriminatory comments directed toward him by two unruly white passengers,” according to the NAACP.
And in the fourth example, a black woman was removed from a New York-bound flight after she complained that her seat was changed without her consent, the NAACP said.
The NAACP did not give further details, provide names of the passengers, or say when the events it described are alleged to have taken place. American Airlines did not comment on the specific allegations.
The NAACP is asking people who have concerns about their travel with American or other airlines to report their experiences to the organization.
Johnson said the NAACP’s “growing list of incidents … involves behavior that cannot be dismissed as normal or random.”
In August, the organization issued a travel advisory for Missouri, citing several discriminatory incidents in the state as reasons for individual visitors to travel with “extreme caution.”
It said at the time that the Missouri advisory was the first ever issued by the organization, at the state or national level.