The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) has cautioned African American people about booking flights with American Airlines.
In a National Travel Advisory published on Tuesday, the long-running civil rights organisation warned black people – and particularly African Americans – that they may be subject to “disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions” when travelling with American Airlines.
Having monitored the experience of African American passengers for several months, the NAACP stated that “a pattern of disturbing incidents” have been reported throughout the entire travelling experience, from booking flights to boarding planes and flying. One such incident in 2016 involved African American Reverend William Barber being kicked off a flight for responding to abuse by two white passengers – who were allowed to stay on the plane.
“All travelers must be guaranteed the right to travel without fear of threat, violence or harm,” Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP, declared. “The growing list of incidents suggesting racial bias reflects an unacceptable corporate culture and involves behavior that cannot be dismissed as normal or random.”
“We expect an audience with the leadership of American Airlines to air these grievances and to spur corrective action,” he continues. “Until these and other concerns are addressed, this national travel advisory will stand.”
Responding to the NAACP’s claims, American Airlines chairman and CEO Doug Parker issued a statement declaring that “bringing people together” is the airlines’ priority. “We fly over borders, walls and stereotypes to connect people from different races, religions, nationalities, economic backgrounds and sexual orientations,” he said, adding that the company was “disappointed” to read the NAACP’s travel advisory.
“The mission statement of the NAACP states that it ‘seeks to remove all barriers of racial discrimination,'” Parker continues. “That’s a mission that the people of American Airlines endorse and facilitate every day – we do not and will not tolerate discrimination of any kind. We have reached out to the NAACP and are eager to meet with them to listen to their issues and concerns.”
American Airlines is the largest airline in the world, accommodating more than 500,000 passengers a day and maintaining 120,000 employees.