NAACP issues travel advisory against American Airlines

WASHINGTON — In a statement released Tuesday, the NAACP warned black passengers of their safety on American Airlines flights after what the civil rights organization calls a “pattern of disturbing incidents.”

“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 read.

“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. This travel advisory is in effect beginning today, October 24, 2017, until further notice.”

The social justice group went even further, saying that the incidents “suggest a corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias on the part of American Airlines.”

The NAACP alleges four key events as part of its travel advisory:

  • An African-American man had to give up his seat on a flight from D.C. to Raleigh-Durham because he responded to “disrespectful and discriminatory comments” from two “unruly” white passengers.
  • An African-American woman had her first-class tickets switched to coach while her white companion remained assigned to first-class.
  • A pilot ordered an African-American woman removed from her flight from New York to Miami because she complained about having her seat changed.
  • An African-American woman and her infant child were removed from a flight from Atlanta to New York City when she asked for her stroller to be retrieved from checked baggage.

American Airlines responded with a statement of its own:

“We are disappointed to hear about this travel advisory as our team members — a diverse community of gate agents, pilots, and flight attendants — are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds,” spokeswoman Shannon Gilson said. “Every day American is committed to providing a positive, safe travel experience for everyone who flies with us.”

“With that said, we understand there is more to do. We will invite representatives of the NAACP to meet with our team at our headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas.”

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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