American Airlines Leads the Industry in Complaints of Racial Discrimination

October 26, 2017, 9:06 PM UTC

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People issued a travel advisory on Tuesday warning black passengers that they could face “unsafe” conditions when traveling with American Airlines. The organization cited four specific incidents of racial discrimination against black travelers flying with the airline.

In addition to this anecdotal evidence, data about flier complaints show American Airlines as an outlier in the racially motivated mistreatment of customers. Consumers lodged more complaints against American Airlines based on race than their competitors, according to a Bloomberg analysis of U.S. Transportation Department data.

From last year through August of this year, customers filed 29 complaints against American Airlines, while United received 17 complaints and Delta and Southwest each received nine.

In a memo sent to staff on Wednesday, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said he was “disappointed” by the advisory and told employees that the company invited representatives from the NAACP to a meeting.

Parker is one of more than 175 CEOs who signed a pledge this summer to take action on creating more inclusive workplaces and communities.

These complaints are unlikely to have a lasting impact on American Airlines. The company’s stock was unaffected by the news on Wednesday and in an industry insulated from boycotts due to heavy consolidation, consumers have little recourse to make their disapproval felt in the bottom line.

Many have taken to Twitter to share experiences of racial discrimination under the hashtags #FlyingWhileBlack and #Happened2MeOnAA.