The NAACP has issued a national travel advisory for American Airlines, warning black people that “booking and boarding flights on American Airlines could subject them (to) disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions.”
The statement, released late Tuesday, cited several incidents experienced by black passengers that “suggest a corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias on the part of American Airlines.”
In one incident, the NAACP says a black woman and her baby were kicked off a flight from Atlanta to New York City when she asked that her stroller be retrieved from checked baggage before she would disembark.
The NAACP recently issued a travel advisory for Missouri, the first the civil rights group had issued for any state warning about discrimination and racist attacks.
American Airlines spokeswoman Shannon Gilson told CNN Money the company is “disappointed” about the advisory.
“Our team members - a diverse community of gate agents, pilots, and flight attendants - are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds,” she said.
Historically, the NAACP has issued travel advisories “when conditions on the ground pose a substantial risk of harm to black Americans, and we are concerned today that the examples cited herein may represent only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ when it comes to American Airlines’ documented mistreatment of African-American customers,” the group’s statement said.
The NAACP cited three other specific incidents that happened on American flights that it found troubling.
In one case, a black 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,” the NAACP statement said.
In another, despite having previously booked first-class tickets for herself and a traveling companion, a black woman’s seating assignment was moved to the coach section at the ticket counter while her white companion remained assigned to first class.
And, on a Miami to New York flight, the pilot had a black woman removed from the plane after she complained to the gate agent about having her seating assignment changed without her consent.
“The NAACP for several months now has been monitoring a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African-American passengers, specific to American Airlines,” the group’s statement said.
“The series of recent incidents involve troublesome conduct by American Airlines and they suggest a corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias on the part of American Airlines.”
NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson said the group wants to meet with American executives to discuss the concerns and find ways to fix them.
“Until these and other concerns are addressed, this national travel advisory will stand,” Johnson said in the statement.
Gilson told CNN that NAACP representatives would be invited to company headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas.
“We are committed to having a meaningful dialogue about our airline and are ready to both listen and engage,” she told CNN.