This week the civil rights organization the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People issued a travel advisory for people of color flying on American Airlines. The travel advisory listed four incidents where African Americans were removed from flights or moved out of first class when a white traveling companion was allowed to remain in first class. The advisory called this “a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African-American passengers, specific to American Airlines.” Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP said, “The growing list of incidents suggesting racial bias reflects an unacceptable corporate culture and involves behavior that cannot be dismissed as normal or random.”
In response, American Airlines Chairman and CEO Doug Parker released a memo to employees saying, “We do not, and will not tolerate discrimination of any kind.” Parker indicated that he was reaching out to the NAACP to find out more about the reported incidents and address its concerns. During an earnings call on Thursday, Parker said, “Discrimination and exclusion and unconscious biases are enormous problems that no one has mastered.” He added, “We would never suggest that we have it all figured out. What we know is we want to keep learning and we want to get better.”
The NAACP has posted a link to report discrimination issues here. In June, the NAACP issued its first travel advisory, warning African Americans to travel with caution in Missouri following an increase in reports of violent racist incidents and the passage of Senate Bill 43, which has been criticized for limiting the rights of LGBT workers to sue for discrimination.