The NAACP is calling out American Airlines. The nation’s oldest and largest social justice organization issued a travel advisory Tuesday (Oct. 24) warning black customers that patronizing the airline could put their “safety and well being” at risk.
The advisory, which is effective from Oct. 24 until “further notice,” was issued following a series of “disturbing incidents” involving black passengers that suggest a “corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias,” the organization said.
“The NAACP for several months now has been monitoring a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African-American passengers, specific to American Airlines,” the statement reads. “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 disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions.”
The four incidents include activist Tamika Mallory being removed from a flight by the pilot after she “complained to the gate agent about having her seating assignment changed without her consent.”
In another instance, American Airlines booted a black male passenger from a North Carolina-bound flight for responding to “disrespectful comments directed towards him by two unruly white passengers.” Two additional incidents included a black woman who was moved from her first-class flight to a coach seat “while her white companion remained assigned to first class,” and another black woman and her infant who were removed from a flight when the woman “asked that her stroller be retrieved from checked baggage before she would disembark.”
“All travelers must be guaranteed the right to travel without fear of threat, violence or harm,” said Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP. “The growing list of incidents suggesting racial bias reflects an unacceptable corporate culture and involves behavior that cannot be dismissed as normal or random.”
Johnson added, “Until these and other concerns are addressed, this national travel advisory will stand.”
In response, American Airlines Chairman and CEO Doug Parker released a letter to employees expressing disappointment over the travel advisory, and asserted that the airline “will not tolerate discrimination of any kind.”
Parker also noted, “We have reached out to the NAACP and are eager to meet with them to listen to their issues and concerns.”