DALLAS (CN) – The NAACP warned African-Americans on Tuesday against flying on American Airlines, citing several recent “disturbing incidents” against black passengers, including an activist being kicked off a flight.
“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 disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions,” the civil rights group said in a written statement. “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.”
The NAACP cited an incident last week involving Tamika Mallory, an organizer of the Women’s March in Washington in January.
Mallory said she was kicked off a flight by a white male pilot after she was told at the gate that a seat she had changed into at an airport kiosk had been assigned to another passenger. Mallory claimed she was treated disrespectfully by a black female gate agent and that the pilot asked if she could control herself on the flight.
Another alleged incident last year involved the Rev. William Barber, the former head of the North Carolina NAACP. Barber sued Fort Worth-based American, claiming he was removed from a plane after asking a flight attendant to tell a white passenger to be quiet.
American CEO Doug Parker said Wednesday he is “disappointed” with the travel advisory.
“The mission statement of the NAACP states that it ‘seeks to remove all barriers of racial discrimination,’” he said in a letter to employees. “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 king, We have reached out to the NAACP and are eager to meet with them to listen to their issues and concerns.”
Parker asked American employees to “keep doing the great and noble work you always do” and to “treat our customers and each other with respect.”
Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP, said in a statement, “All travelers must be guaranteed the right to travel without fear of threat, violence or harm.”
“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. Until these and other concerns are addressed, this national travel advisory will stand,” Johnson said.