NAACP warns black passengers about traveling with American Airlines

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NEW YORK — The NAACP has warned African-American travelers to be careful when flying with American Airlines.

The group issued an advisory late Tuesday, saying it has noticed “a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African-American passengers, specific to American Airlines.”

It said the incidents “suggest a corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias” and advised travelers to exercise caution.

“Booking and boarding flights on American Airlines could subject them [to] disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions,” the advisory said.

American Airlines spokeswoman Shannon Gilson said the company was “disappointed” to hear about the advisory and is “committed to providing a positive, safe travel experience for everyone.”

“Our team members — a diverse community of gate agents, pilots, and flight attendants — are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds,” she said.

In response to NAACP President Derrick Johnson’s call for an audience with the airline’s leadership, Gilson said representatives from the organization would be invited to the company’s 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 said.

The organization described four examples in particular — including one in which it said an African-American woman and her infant child were removed from a flight from Atlanta to New York after she asked if their stroller could be retrieved from checked baggage before she left the plane.

The NAACP didn’t provide the name of the woman or say when the events it described are alleged to have taken place. American Airlines didn’t comment on the specific allegations.

Johnson said the NAACP’s “growing list of incidents … involves behavior that cannot be dismissed as normal or random.”

In August, the organization issued a travel advisory for Missouri, citing several discriminatory incidents in the state as reasons for individual visitors to travel with “extreme caution.”

It said at the time that the Missouri advisory was the first ever issued by the organization, at the state or national level.

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