MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The NAACP is advising people, especially African-Americans, to be careful when booking flights on American Airlines.
The group issued a travel advisory Tuesday night after learning of what it calls “a pattern of disturbing incidents on American Airline flights” reported by African-American passengers.
One involved Tamika Mallory, an activist and co-president of the Women’s March, who was removed from a flight to Miami when she complained about her seat. In another incident, the president of the NAACP’s North Carolina chapter was removed from a flight after exchanging words with two white passengers.
Two other incidents were also cited in the advisory.
In the travel advisory issued by the civil rights organization, they say recent incidents “suggest a corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias on the part of American Airlines.”
The NAACP says booking on the airline could cause travelers — especially African Americans —
“disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions.”
American Airlines responded to the advisory with a statement which read in part: “We are disappointed to hear about the travel advisory, as our team members are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds. We are committed to having a meaningful dialogue about our airline and are ready to both listen and engage.”
In Mallory’s case, the New York activist took to Facebook to describe her problem with the airline. She said she was flying to New York from Miami when she had a problem with her seat assignment. She said the ticket agent treated her rudely and couldn’t solve her problem. As she started to board the plane, she says the pilot stopped her.
“The first thing this man said to me was, ‘Respect goes both ways’ and she said, ‘she told you she had nothing to do with your ticket. And you had an issue with that. What’s your problem?’” Mallory recalled. “He asked me, ‘Was I going to behave? Could I control myself?’”
Mallory said she took her seat and kept quiet and then she was called to the front of the plane.
“I said, ‘Am I being thrown off this plane?” And this white man was staring there and he points at her and says, ‘Yeah, her. Off.’”
Mallory tweeted a few days later that American Airlines reached out to her and they plan to have a meeting soon about policy changes.
American Airlines customers that we spoke with at Fort Lauderdale International said they’ve never seen discriminatory behavior from the airline and are troubled by the travel advisory.
“I haven’t been discriminated,” said Eugene Arinze. “It’s good to fly American Airlines.”
“It’d be very surprising being that the different races they have working for them here at the airport, if they were doing that for African-Americans,” said Robinson Pierrenor. “I don’t think that would be fair at all.”