American Airlines is coming under fire from the NAACP for the way it treats African-American passengers.

The nation’s oldest civil rights group released a travel advisory on Tuesday warning African-Americans that their safety and well-being may be at risk when traveling on 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 organization said in a release. “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 to disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions.”

The release lists four such incidents dating back to last year: 

  1. 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. 
  2. Despite having previously booked first-class tickets for herself and a traveling companion, an African-American woman’s seating assignment was switched to the coach section at the ticket counter, while her white companion remained assigned to a first-class seat. 
  3. On a flight bound for New York from Miami, the pilot directed that an African-American woman be removed from the flight when she complained to the gate agent about having her seating assignment changed without her consent.
  4. An African-American woman and her infant child were removed from a flight from Atlanta to New York City when the woman (incidentally a Harvard Law School student) asked that her stroller be retrieved from checked baggage before she would disembark. 

The third incident that occurred on Oct. 15 involved activist Tamika D. Mallory, best known for her work as national co-chair of the Women’s March movement.

Mallory said no one on the flight crew told her why she was removed from the flight. She later tweeted about the incident, saying that no matter how hard black women fight, “white men are allowed to treat [us] like shit.” 

The NAACP said that it typically issues travel advisories when conditions on the ground pose a substantial risk of harm to black Americans.

In August, it issued a travel advisory warning African-Americans about traveling to Missouri. The NAACP made the advisory announcement based on racist incidents, and the fact that “African-Americans in Missouri are 75 percent more likely to be stopped and searched by law enforcement officers than Caucasians.”

The organization fears that the examples posted above “may represent only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ when it comes to American Airlines’ documented mistreatment of African-American customers.”

NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said the travel advisory will stand until the organization can meet with American Airlines executives to discuss their concerns and “spur corrective action.”

That could happen soon. 

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said on Wednesday he is eager to meet with the NAACP.

In a memo written to airline employees, he made it clear that all passengers must be treated equally: 

“We fly over borders, walls and stereotypes to connect people from different races, religions, nationalities, economic backgrounds and sexual orientations. We make the world a smaller, more inclusive place. We do not and will not tolerate discrimination of any kind.”

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