OAKLAND, Calif. - The NAACP is warning African American travelers they could face “disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions” when flying American Airlines.
The nation’s largest social justice advocacy organization released a travel advisory late Tuesday after monitoring for several months “a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African-American passengers, specific to American Airlines.”
“The series of recent incidents involve troublesome conduct by American Airlines and they suggest a corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias on the part of American Airlines,’’ the advisory said.
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker responded in a memo to the airline’s 120,000 employee, saying the company is “disappointed” to hear about the travel advisory.
“Of all the really important things our team members do – and that list is long – bringing people together is at the top. We fly over borders, walls and stereotypes to connect people from different races, religions, nationalities, economic backgrounds and sexual orientations. We make the world a smaller, more inclusive place. And we do it professionally and safely every day for more than 500,000 customers across five continents,’’ said the memo, which was released on the company’s web site.
He said the airlines has reached out to the NAACP and is eager to meet with them to listen to their issues and concerns.
The NAACP cited four examples of recent incidents reported by passengers.
- An African-American man was forced to give up his seat because he responded to disrespectful and discriminatory comments directed toward him by two unruly white passengers.
- An African-American woman was moved to the coach section from first class while her white traveling companion remained in first class.
- An African-American woman was removed from the flight when she complained to the gate agent about having her seating assignment changed without her consent.
- An African-American woman and her baby were removed from a flight when the woman asked that her stroller be retrieved from checked baggage before she got off the plane.
“All travelers must be guaranteed the right to travel without fear of threat, violence or harm,” said company CEO Derrick Johnson. “The growing list of incidents suggesting racial bias reflects an unacceptable corporate culture and involves behavior that cannot be dismissed as normal or random.”
Earlier this year, the NAACP issued a first-ever travel advisory for Missouri. They warned people to travel with "extreme caution" following what they said were several discriminatory incidents in the state.