ARIZONA NEWS

American Airlines CEO calls removal of Black passengers from Phoenix flight ‘unacceptable’

Jun 20, 2024, 7:00 PM

American Airlines put an unspecified number of employees on leave for their involvement in an incid...

American Airlines put an unspecified number of employees on leave for their involvement in an incident in which several Black passengers were removed from a flight in Phoenix, allegedly over a complaint about body odor. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

DALLAS (AP) — American Airlines put an unspecified number of employees on leave for their involvement in an incident in which several Black passengers were removed from a flight in Phoenix, allegedly over a complaint about body odor.

American CEO Robert Isom wrote in a note to staff that the incident was unacceptable.

“I am incredibly disappointed by what happened on that flight and the breakdown of our procedures,” Isom said in the note this week. “It contradicts our values. … We fell short of our commitments and failed our customers in this incident.”

Three Black passengers sued the airline last month, charging that they were removed from the January flight because of racial discrimination. They said they were told that a white male flight attendant had complained about an unidentified passenger’s body odor.

The men said they did not know each other and were seated separately while waiting for the plane to depart for New York. The three said they were among eight passengers – all the Black men on the flight, they said – who were told to leave the plane.

The men said they demanded an explanation for their removal during a confrontation with airline personnel in the jet bridge. At least one of the men recorded the discussion, capturing an airline employee seeming to agree that the men were discriminated against, according to their lawsuit.

After a delay of about an hour, they were allowed back on the plane.

American did not say how many employees were put on leave or describe their job titles. A spokesperson for the airline said, “We are holding those involved accountable, including removing team members from service.”

Isom said American would form an advisory group to focus on the experience of Black customers, to promote the reporting of discrimination allegations, and to improve diversity training to “focus on real-world situations to help recognize and address bias and discrimination.”

In his note, which was reported earlier by CBS News, Isom said he had spoken with the president of the NAACP about the incident. The civil rights group did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

American has faced allegations of discrimination in the recent past. In 2017, the NAACP warned Black travelers about flying on the airline, claiming that several African American passengers had experienced discrimination from airline employees. American promised to make changes, and the NAACP lifted the advisory nearly nine months later.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Phoenix could see rain this weekend after a period of over a week of extreme heat. (Photo by Mario ...

Danny Shapiro

Break in extreme heat expected for metro Phoenix this weekend, with rain chances

The extreme heat in Phoenix could dissipate by the weekend and be replaced by rain, according to meteorologists.

2 hours ago

(Photo provided by Sun Health Foundation.)...

KTAR.com

Resale Boutique in Sun City to close doors after 40 years

Sun Health Foundation plans to close its Resale Boutique in Sun City at the end of the month, ending a 40-year run.

2 hours ago

Slim Chickens franchise hiring for 3 new restaurants in Arizona...

KTAR.com

Slim Chickens set to open third Valley location in Glendale next week

In addition to opening its third Valley location, Slim Chickens is looking to expand to over 600 in the next decade.

3 hours ago

sentenced to over 15 years for sexual abuse of a child...

KTAR.com

Arizona man sentenced for sexually abusing a minor

A Fort Defiance man was sentenced to over 15 years in prison for sexually abusing a child on numerous occasions between 2017-2019.

11 hours ago

(Facebook Photo/Mesa Fire and Medical Department)...

KTAR.com

Fire in Mesa leads to significant power outage for several hours

Thousands of customers lost power in east Mesa on Thursday afternoon after a large fire sparked nearby, according to abc15.com.

12 hours ago

(Facebook Photo/Buckeye AZ Police Department)...

KTAR.com

Buckeye police arrest former teacher on kidnapping charges

The Buckeye Police Department arrested a former teacher on Wednesday and charged him with luring and kidnapping a student.

12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

American Airlines CEO calls removal of Black passengers from Phoenix flight ‘unacceptable’