Flying the friendly skies hasn’t been so friendly for black passengers on American Airlines. And following “a pattern of disturbing incidents” that “suggest a corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias on the part of American Airlines,” the NAACP has stepped in to issue a warning about flying while black with the airline.
“The NAACP for several months now has been monitoring a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African-American passengers, specific to American Airlines,” the advocacy group announced on Tuesday.
There were at least four specific instances that raised these concerns, including one in which an African-American man had to forfeit his seats after he had “responded to disrespectful and discriminatory comments directed toward him by two unruly white passengers,” the group said.
In another case, a black woman with first-class tickets was switched to coach while her white companion remained in first class; two other incidents involved black women removed from flights after making routine complaints or requests.
“All travelers must be guaranteed the right to travel without fear of threat, violence or harm,” said NAACP CEO and President Derrick Johnson.
“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.”
As reported by Salon, this is not the first time the NAACP has issued a travel advisory. In August, the organization’s Missouri chapter warned people of color, members of the LGBT community, women and those with disabilities to “travel with extreme caution” throughout the entire state because “they may not be safe.”
American Airlines CEO, Doug Parker, responded on Wednesday in a memo to employees in which he said he expressed willingness to meet with members of the NAACP.
“We do not and we will not tolerate discrimination of any kind,” Parker wrote in the memo, NBC News reported. “We have reached out to the NAACP and are eager to meet with them to listen to their issues and concerns.”
Meanwhile, American Airlines Public Affairs Communications Director Shannon Gilson told Splinter News that they were “disappointed” with the NAACP’s actions.
The travel advisory will remain effective until further notice.