NAACP advisory on American Airlines warns Black travelers to steer clear

GagliardiImages  Shutterstock

GagliardiImages Shutterstock

In light of these confrontations, we have today taken the action of issuing national advisory alerting travelers - especially African Americans - to exercise caution, in that booking and boarding flights on American Airlines could subject them to 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", the group said in a statement on Tuesday, and that some recent incidents "may represent only the "tip of the iceberg" when it comes to American Airlines' documented mistreatment of African-American customers".

American Airlines is the world's largest airline and is located in Fort Worth, Texas.

The NAACP described "a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African-American passengers, specific to American Airlines".

An African-American woman was switched from the first-class seats that she paid for to coach while the white person she was traveling with was allowed to remain in first-class.

Mallory said she was treated disrespectfully by the gate agent - another African-American woman - and was outraged when a white male pilot asked if she could control herself while on the flight. Two other incidents involved black women removed from flights after making routine complaints or requests, including asking for "her stroller to be retrieved from checked baggage before she would disembark".

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".

"Until these and other concerns are addressed, this national travel advisory will stand".

This is the second travel advisory the NAACP has issued since last summer, when the organization issued an advisory for the entire state of Missouri after the state passed a law affecting employee protections against workplace discrimination.

The airline's CEO said Wednesday that he was disappointed by the announcement and that the company wanted to discuss the matter with the civil rights group.

Parker said such incidents are "very rare events" and that American Airlines staff "does a really nice job of deescalating" situations.

American Airlines chief executive Doug Parker said the NAACP's criticism of the carrier earlier this week was "obviously a disappointment to our team", but that it was also an opportunity. "What we know is we want to keep learning and we want to be even better".

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