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The NAACP has Threatened American Airlines With a Travel Ban Because It Kicked 8 Black Men Off a Trip Because of Body Odor


The NAACP said they would put American Airlines back on a travel ban after the company kicked eight Black men off a flight last month because a white flight attendant said an unnamed passenger smelled bad.

In 2017, the civil rights group told their airline’s African American passengers to “exercise caution” after hearing several reports of discrimination. The group said at the time that four “alarming” events seemed to show that Black Americans were treated unfairly, discriminated against, or were in unsafe conditions when they booked or boarded an airline flight.

In response, American Airlines set up a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) group. In July 2018, the NAACP lifted its ban.

But because DEI projects are becoming more political, American Ariline’s council was broken up last year.

As more claims of harassment come in, the NAACP is calling on the company to do something again.

An open letter from NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said, “Recent acts of discrimination by company employees show that there is an urgent need for continued accountability and resolution to this clear pattern.”

Sha’Carri Richardson, a track star, said in 2023 that a flight worker “threatened” her and a fan who wanted a picture with them. In the same year, American airport staff questioned artist David Ryan Harris because they thought he was trafficking children, even though the boys were his own.

In February, retired Circuit Judge Pamela Hill-Veal told NPR that she and her family were flying first class on American from Chicago to Phoenix. During the flight, a flight attendant told her she had “slammed” the door to the first-class bathroom and told her she would have to use the bathroom at the back of the plane for the rest of the flight.

It was only last month that three Black men sued American Airlines, saying that workers made them and two other Black men get off a flight from California to New York.

The lawsuit says that the claimants were not given a reason right away for being moved. After asking several times for an answer, a representative finally told them that a white male flight attendant had complained about the smell of an unknown passenger. The lawsuit says that none of the guys who were taken away were accused of having a bad smell.

Several of the guys who were there on video recordings say they were being discriminated against. It can be heard that at least one American representative said “I agree” in answer to the accusations.

Johnson said, “We encourage American Airlines to bring back the advisory panel and get back together with the NAACP to figure out a way forward that makes sure all American Airlines customers have fair experiences.” “The NAACP will have to put out another warning about the airline if they don’t respond quickly and decisively.”

“We have worked with the NAACP to create education and training programs to address issues of bias on our aircraft and in our hiring practices to eliminate bias and create a workforce and customer experience that represents the customers we serve,” a company spokesperson told The Hill.

In a statement released Wednesday, lawyers for the plaintiffs Susan Huhta (partner at Outten & Golden) and Michael Kirkpatrick (attorney at Public Citizen Litigation Group) said that their three clients are “still waiting or American Airlines to provide them with a reasonable explanation for why they were removed from the airplane and publicly humiliated.”

American Airlines has told The Hill in the past that they take “all claims of discrimination very seriously” and want all of their customers to have a good time when they ride with them. Also, the business said that it was looking into the claims and that they did not fit with their core values or their mission to care for people.

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