News & Politics

NAACP Issues 'Travel Advisory' for American Airlines

NAACP President Derrick Johnson speaks at a National Press Club (NPC) Headliners luncheon in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, to discuss the future of the NAACP and their recently-issued travel advisory for Missouri. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The NAACP has a new president and if anyone was in doubt about Derrick Johnson’s philosophy of advancing the cause of black equality, this move today by the organization answers a lot of questions.

The NAACP issued a “travel advisory” for black airline passengers thinking of using American Airlines. Does AA force blacks to sit in the back of the plane? Well, not exactly. It seems that the sleuths at the NAACP have uncovered four instances where black passengers were forced to give up their seats or were removed from flights.

CNN Money:

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 (AAL) CEO Doug Parker said in a memo to staff that the company was “disappointed” to hear about the NAACP warning.

He said the airline has reached out to the NAACP to meet with them. NAACP President Derrick Johnson had called for a meeting with the airline’s leadership.

The day the NAACP issues a travel advisory for Englewood in Chicago, South Central L.A., and other inner city neighborhoods that are dangerous for a white person to walk through is the day we should take something like this seriously.

Even then, this is amazing. “Suggest” a corporate culture of racial insensitivity and “possible” racial bias? That’s an out-and-out smear, given the “incidents” that the travel ban is based on:

In one, the NAACP said a black woman and her baby were removed from a flight from Atlanta to New York after she asked for their stroller to be retrieved from checked baggage before she left the plane.

A second allegation described an incident involving a black woman who had booked first-class tickets for herself and a white companion. At the ticket counter, the black woman was moved to coach, while her traveling partner was allowed to stay in first class, the NAACP said.

On a third flight from Washington, D.C., to Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, a black man was forced to give up his seat after he “responded to disrespectful and discriminatory comments directed toward him by two unruly white passengers,” according to the NAACP.

And in the fourth example, a black woman was removed from a New York-bound flight after she complained that her seat was changed without her consent, the NAACP said.

The NAACP did not give further details, provide names of the passengers, or say when the events it described are alleged to have taken place. American Airlines did not comment on the specific allegations.

What isn’t included in the NAACP’s description is how these people acted during the incidents in question. Were they screaming and threatening airline employees? Did the black man who “responded” to racial slurs get physically violent?

When you’re flying at 600 MPH at 30,000 feet in a pressurized tube, crammed in with a couple of hundred people, one unstable passenger can set off a disastrous panic. I can’t imagine an airline employee kicking anyone off the plane for making a simple request like the retrieval of a stroller or a complaint about a seating change unless there were other circumstances involved. If they did, then the chances of those employees being guilty of racial bias are pretty good.

But airline employees are trained to handle these situations with politeness and empathy. It just doesn’t track that there is any racial bias involved here.

That hardly matters to the NAACP’s new president,  who has promised a more militant NAACP.  The Missouri branch had previously issued a travel advisory for the state of Missouri. Now, President Johnson has apparently hit upon a scheme to target corporations. Perhaps he feels he can extort money from American? It wouldn’t be the first instance of black activists looking for payouts from big companies by initiating boycotts.

This travel ban is not serious. It’s a PR stunt. In the meantime, poor American Airlines, which thought it played the political correctness game the right way, discovers to its horror that good intentions will get you nowhere.