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Opinions from American Airlines passengers at PBIA reveal NAACP advisory could hurt airline

Posted at 3:51 PM, Oct 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-25 18:39:58-04

As the news of the NAACP's travel advisory against American Airlines traveled through Palm Beach International Airport, so did opinions.

"If it happened to somebody, it could happen to me," said Eugene Adkins of Atlanta. 

The NAACP is urging black travelers to be cautious when booking and boarding flights with American Airlines, telling them they could be put in a discriminatory or unsafe situation. 

"I just sent it to her because she was flying today and I think you should be aware of this," said Sherifah Lawal of West Palm Beach.

Lawal was saying goodbye to her sister who was visiting from Indiana and about to board an American Airlines flight. She read about incidents documented by the NAACP, alleging for several months, African-Americans have been discriminated against and removed from flights.

The organization cited four specific incidents but did not say when they occurred.

In one incident, the NAACP said the pilot directed that an African-American woman be removed from the flight when she complained to the gate agent about having her seat changed without notice. In another incident the NAACP said an African-American woman who was traveling with a white companion was moved from first-class to coach while her traveling companion was allowed to stay in first-class. 

"If they feel that people have experienced the things that seem to be racially motivated I think it’s right for them to issue an advisory," added Lawal.

Some American Airlines passengers at PBIA said they are loyal to the airline because of its customer service, but say if they witnessed any unfair treatment of any customer, they wouldn't fly American anymore. 

"I’ve abandoned some other airlines just because I’ve been dissatisfied with the customer service so obviously you know if there was something I would consider it," said Cynthia Abel, who was flying to Colorado. 

American Airlines said it does not tolerate discrimination and released a letter to its employees Wednesday saying the airline is disappointed in the travel advisory. It has reached out to the NAACP to meet with its leaders and listen to their issues and concerns.

The NAACP said it will keep its advisory in effect until their concerns are addressed and corrected.