The NAACP has issued a national travel advisory for American Airlines, citing recent instances of discrimination against African-American passengers.
"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 statement. "In light of these confrontations, we have today taken the action of issuing a 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."
In one recent incident cited by the NAACP, Tamika Mallory, a co-chair of the Women's March on Washington, said a pilot kicked her off an American Airlines flight in Miami when she complained to the gate agent about the airline changing her seat assignment without notice or consent. Mallory has been outspoken about the incident, pledging to fight what she says is "white male aggression" and discrimination.
Other instances noted by the organization include an African-American man allegedly being forced to give up his purchased seat aboard a flight "because he responded to disrespectful and discriminatory comments directed toward him by two unruly white passengers;" a Black woman's seating assignment reportedly being switched from first class to coach at the ticket counter while her white companion remained in first class; and a woman and her infant reportedly being removed from a flight when she asked to have her stroller retrieved from checked baggage before disembarking.
"All travelers must be guaranteed the right to travel without fear of threat, violence, or harm," Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, said in the statement. "The growing list of incidents suggesting racial bias reflects an unacceptable corporate culture and involves behavior that cannot be dismissed as normal or random." He called for "corrective action" and said the advisory will stand until the airline addresses these concerns.
When we asked American Airlines about the advisory, the company pointed us to a statement on its website, which says: "We were disappointed to learn of a travel advisory issued by the NAACP regarding American Airlines. The mission statement of the NAACP states that it 'seeks to remove all barriers of racial discrimination.' 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."
The airline said that it has reached out to the NAACP and is "eager to meet with them to listen to their issues and concerns."
The NAACP has historically issued travel advisories when conditions pose a substantial risk of harm to African-Americans. Earlier this year, the organization advised women, people of color, LGBTQ folks, and other minorities against traveling to Missouri, responding to an increase in racist attacks and the introduction of discriminatory legislation.