The NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, has issued an advisory warning black travelers to be cautious about flying on American Airlines.
The organization warned the airline “could subject black travelers to disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions.”
The NAACP cited four examples of black passengers who it said were forced to give up their seats or were removed from flights. This “suggests a corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias on the part of American Airlines.”
“An African-American man was required to relinquish his purchased seats aboard a flight from Washington, D.C. to Raleigh-Durham, merely because he responded to disrespectful and discriminatory comments directed toward him by two unruly white passengers,” the NAACP said of one incident.
In another one, the NAACP said a black woman and her baby were removed from a flight from Atlanta to New York after she asked for their stroller to be retrieved from checked baggage before she left the plane.
Yet another allegation described an incident involving a black woman who had booked first-class tickets for herself and a white companion. At the ticket counter, the black woman was moved to coach, while her traveling partner was allowed to stay in first class, the NAACP said.
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said in a memo to staff that the company was “disappointed” to hear about the NAACP warning.
“We fly over borders, walls, and stereotypes to connect people from different races, religions, nationalities, economic backgrounds, and sexual orientations,” Parker wrote in the memo, which the company released to reporters. “We do not and will not tolerate discrimination of any kind.”
American Airlines, which has 120,000 employees, has invited NAACP representatives to meet at the company headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, for “a meaningful dialogue.”
The NAACP also issued a travel advisory for the state of Missouri this summer, citing the state’s record of racial bias in traffic stops, among other things. It was the first such alert the NAACP had ever issued for a single state.