NAACP warns black passengers who fly American Airlines

Rights group issues travel advisory over ‘troublesome conduct’ by airline staff directed at African Americans.

American Airlines
American Airlines said it was 'disappointed' to hear about the NAACP travel warning [File: Alan Diaz/AP Images]

A leading civil rights group in the US has issued a travel warning for black passengers who fly on American Airlines over a series of “disturbing incidents” involving “troublesome conduct” directed at African American passengers. 

“The NAACP for several months now has been monitoring a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African American passengers, specific to American Airlines,” the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) said in a statement late on Tuesday.

“In light of these confrontations, we have today taken the action of issuing national advisory alerting travellers – especially African Americans – to exercise caution in that booking and boarding flights on American Airlines could subject them to disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions,” the group added.

The NAACP said there had been a “series of recent incidents [that] involve troublesome conduct by American Airlines … [that] suggest a corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial basis”.

The organisation cited four specific cases, which included that of an African American man who said he was forced to give up his seat after he “responded to disrespectful and discriminatory comments directed toward him”.

It also said an African American woman, who purchased a first-class ticket, was switched to coach while her white travelling companion was not.


American Airlines, in a memo to its employees, said it was “disappointed to learn of a travel advisory issued by the NAACP”.

The company does not and “will not tolerate discrimination of any kind”, and it has “reached out to the NAACP and are eager to meet with them to listen to their issues and concerns,” it said.

In August, the NAACP issued a travel warning for African Americans going to Missouri – the first time it has done so for a US state – saying visitors should “pay special attention and exercise extreme caution when travelling through the state given the series of questionable, race-based incidents occurring statewide recently”.

It cited, among other things, statistics announced by the state’s attorney general that said African Americans in Missouri are 75 percent more likely to be stopped and searched by police than white people.

After the travel advisory was announced, “American Airlines” trended online in the United States.

Tariq Nasheed, an African American author and filmmaker, shared his own experience with the airline in 2011.

Others used #Happened2MeOnAA to share their own experiences with the company, including some saying they’ve been discriminated against based on race or because they have a disability. 

In the past, #FlyingWhileBlack has been used by individuals who said they were targeted because of their race.

The hashtag was popularised earlier this month when Tamika Mallory, an activist and co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington, accused American Airlines of racial discrimination after being kicked off a flight because of an argument she had over a seat assignment change. 

Mallory has since said American Airlines reached out to her to set up a meeting to discuss her concerns. 

Others, including well-known writer and comedian Baratunde Thurston, called on the NAACP to issue a similar warning for all of the US.

Source: Al Jazeera