By Katie Wortzel | The Washington Post A black flight attendants refused to give a black passenger a seat on a flight from New York to Los Angeles, and the airline eventually offered to refund the fare and replace the attendant with another woman.
The incident, captured on video and shared online by a passenger, drew attention on social media, with many saying the airline’s response was racist and discriminatory.
“I’m not here to complain about what the airline did, but it should have never happened,” said Kayla Jackson, a student who had just left the airport to pick up her mother.
“It’s a real microaggression, that they would even try to take away a black person’s seat,” Jackson said, noting that the incident happened before the Black Lives Matter movement became a major issue on American Airlines.
The video, which was posted Monday by the Twitter account @bluerife, shows the flight attendant being asked by a black female passenger if she would like to sit next to a black man.
“If you can’t get in, we’ll make you an extra seat,” the attendant says.
“And we can make you one of those extra seats if you’re black.”
After several minutes of awkward silence, the flight attendants then offer the black passenger two seats, one of which he takes.
But she declines, and continues to politely ask the flight manager to take her place.
“This isn’t what we should be doing,” the flight captain says.
After the flight leaves, Jackson says she asks the flight director for a refund.
“We were on the phone with the flight crew and the flight was canceled,” she said.
“They told us we couldn’t do that, so they told us to just refund our money.”
But after several more minutes, Jackson, who is black, said she was offered two seats.
“So I get in the seat, and I see this man sitting next to me, and he’s not wearing a seatbelt,” Jackson told The Washington Times.
“But he’s wearing a jacket.”
The flight was eventually canceled and Jackson said she doesn’t think the incident reflects the airline or its culture.
“What we saw is that they have a really bad history of not listening to people,” she told The Times.
She said she feels like American Airlines should have made an effort to address the incident before it happened, as well as the lack of racial equity on the flight.
“These are the people who are supposed to be the gatekeepers for these people, but they don’t listen to them, they just get upset about things,” she added.
The airline, which is owned by Delta, did not respond to requests for comment.