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American Airlines Boeing 757 plane
Published: 17 November 2017

Since issuing a travel advisory for American Airlines on Oct. 24 the NAACP has received testimony from hundreds of concerned passengers and employees, regarding alleged racially discriminatory and racially-biased treatment. 

Our national staff fielded approximately 600 phone calls on the subject, including nearly 50 from current and past American Airlines employees. A form posted on www.naacp.org, seeking reports of irregularities experienced on American Airlines or another travel provider, garnered around 200 responses. Twelve of these responses came from current or former employees. While the vast majority referred to experiences on American Airlines, eight testified to encountering inappropriate treatment on three other major air carriers and one bus company.

Among the disturbing stories by passengers and employees were:

  • A young Black woman who was asked to get off the plane so that her seat could accommodate a White man’s dog.
  • A young Black mother traveling with her infant daughter who was belittled and screamed at by a white pilot for simply asking for her child’s stroller.
  • A retired Black firefighter was cursed at and physically assaulted by an employee while traveling with his church group.
  • A person of color who was nearly obstructed from boarding an airline by a gate agent who told him “American is for Americans.”
  • A Black female flight attendant who is routinely seated in the back of the plane, separate from white flight attendants, when flying stand-by.
  • An employee with several decades experience reportedly kicked off a flight by a White pilot.

The NAACP issued a travel advisory warning African Americans about their safety and well-being when patronizing American Airlines or traveling on American Airlines flights following a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African-American passengers, specific to American Airlines.

The NAACP will continue to seek testimony from affected passengers and employees and a productive dialogue with the American Airlines leadership. 


About the NAACP:

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas here.

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