NAACP Issues Travel Advisory for American Airlines

Posted: Oct 25, 2017 1:25 PM
NAACP Issues Travel Advisory for American Airlines

After four incidents involving the removal of African American passengers from their seats on American Airlines flights, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has issued a travel advisory warning for African Americans who may be considering travel with the airline.

The complaints against American Airlines gained the most attention when, Tamika Mallory, the co-chair of the Women's March, was removed from her American Airlines flight because of "white male aggression" on October 15.

Before her flight, Mallory used a kiosk to change her seating position from a middle seat to an aisle seat. As she started to board, Mallory learned that her seat had been changed back to a middle seat and subsequently got into an argument with the gate agent. The back and forth resulted in the flight's pilot confronting Mallory and telling her that the gate agent was merely doing their job and that they were not responsible for any change to her seating.

Mallory claimed that she was patronized by the pilot and that he should not have inserted himself into the situation. After boarding, Mallory was called to the front of the plane and asked to leave.

In another instance, Rane Baldwin, traveling with a friend, was asked to leave her first class seat to move to coach because "the change was due to an aircraft swap and a smaller first class cabin." Baldwin's friend joined her in coach but supposedly received better treatment from the flight attendants. When Baldwin and her friend were seen sitting together, a flight attendant said the two did not have to sit next to each other if they didn't want to, as coach was open seating. Baldwin stated that this comment was racist as that offer was made to her Caucasian friend and not her.

Another instance was when Briana Williams, who is a mother and Harvard Law student, requested that airport workers bring her her child's stroller so she could use it during a flight delay. Her request was denied, and she refused to leave the plane until she got what she wanted. The police were called to remove Williams.

NAACP's President and CEO Derrick Johnson stated:

All travelers must be guaranteed the right to travel without fear of threat, violence or harm. The growing list of incidents suggesting racial bias reflects an unacceptable corporate culture and involves behavior that cannot be dismissed as normal or random. We expect an audience with the leadership of American Airlines to air these grievances and to spur corrective action. Until these and other concerns are addressed, this national travel advisory will stand.

While the allegations are being investigated and American Airlines is looking to meet with members of the NAACP, not everyone is buying into the notion that American Airlines has a problem of endemic racism.