The NAACP has issued a travel warning for black travelers flying on American Airlines and called for a meeting with the company to discuss what it sees as a pattern of discriminatory behavior, the organization announced Tuesday.
“The NAACP for several months now has been monitoring a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African-American passengers, specific to American Airlines,” the press release said. “Booking and boarding flights on American Airlines could subject them to disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions.”
The statement cited four specific events in explaining its conclusion that the airline has a “corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias.” The first appeared to reference a November incident in which a North Carolina NAACP leader charged he was removed from a flight after reprimanding two white men who had harassed him. The second incident involved a complaint from a black passenger who said she was bumped from first class to coach but her white friend, whose ticket she also booked, wasn’t. In the third incident, Tamika Mallory, activist and one of the co-chairwomen of the Women’s March movement, claimed she was kicked off a flight after complaining to a gate agent about a change in her seat assignment. In the fourth, a Harvard Law student said she was booted from her flight after she asked her stroller be retrieved from checked baggage during a five-hour delay.
“Historically, the NAACP has issued travel advisories when conditions on the ground pose a substantial risk of harm to black Americans, and we are concerned today that the examples cited herein may represent only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ when it comes to American Airlines’ documented mistreatment of African-American customers,” the statement said. It said the travel warning would remain in effect until American Airlines met with the NAACP and addressed their concerns.
The airline responded in a statement to reporters the airline said it will invite the NAACP to meet and discuss their concerns. “We are disappointed to hear about this travel advisory as our team members–a diverse community of gate agents, pilots, and flight attendants–are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds,” the statement said.
The NAACP also issued a travel advisory for the state of Missouri in August, its first ever for a state, warning black travelers and Missourians to “exercise extreme caution” because of a “series of questionable, race-based incidents occurring statewide recently.” In particular, it called out high rates of black drivers being stopped by police and a state law that makes it harder to sue a business for race discrimination.