In the last 20 months, passengers who have flown with American Airlines have filled over 29 complaints rooted in racial discrimination. According to the U.S. department of Transportation, these startling number of complaints are among the most amount out of any airline in the United States currently. While air travelers can often be unhappy, American Airlines, which typically has anywhere between 8-12 million passengers in a given month, has recently come under particular scrutiny for its treatment of African-American passengers. Given these alarming rates, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) responded by issuing a travel advisory for the airline in October of 2017 by citing four incidents that,”suggest a corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias”.
Since the travel ban was issued, the NAACP has received testimonies from hundreds of concerned passengers and employees regarding alleged racially discriminatory and racially-biased treatment. In response to these allegations, the Chief Executive Officer Doug Parker addressed the announcement by stating “Discrimination, exclusion and unconscious biases are enormous problems that no one has mastered, and we would never suggest that we have it all figured out either-We want to keep learning and we want to be even better”. In the preceding months, the NAACP and American Airlines met many times to address these concerns. In December of 2017, the NAACP announced that they were pleased that American Airlines would start addressing their concerns about the airline’s treatment of African-American passengers. However, they have yet to drop the travel advisory that they issues back in October. Personally, I believe this to be a wise decision.
American Airlines is only one of many corporations that have started to receive heavy scrutiny for their treatment of people of color. No company wants to lose revenue generated from discriminatory practices, and so actions such as meeting with the NAACP or stating ones “drive towards inclusion” are simply easy solutions to help try and alleviate the growing issues rooted in racism. Regardless of whether or not issuing a travel advisory has caused American Airlines to lose revenue, the simple fact remains that the notice makes their practices known to the world. It puts the company in a tough position and I personally believe that by making these types of issues public, real conversations about inequality can be had and sustainable solutions can be achieved.