American Airlines CEO Doug Parker Met With the NAACP Today and Made Four Commitments

Tamika Mallory, co-founder of the Womens March, was headed to Al Sharpton’s daughter’s wedding on American Airlines. She apparently had her seat changed on her by a gate agent and reportedly responded by “screeming f-bombs at the staff in front of kids’. She wasn’t permitted to fly, and took to social media to decry American Airlines racism.

The NAACP followed up by issuing a ‘travel advisory’ regarding American Airlines about a week later.


Credit: American Airlines

American quite correctly didn’t correct the record on the specific details of the incidents that NAACP cited, even where the details were completely false. American had nothing to win. Instead they embraced the challenge ‘to get better’ and pledged to meet with the NAACP.

That meeting has now happened (and included Ms. Mallory) and the airline says they’ve agreed to take four steps, all pretty anodyne stuff.

  1. Conduct a Diversity and Inclusion Gap Analysis: An independent firm will conduct a top-to-bottom review of American’s human resources and business policies related to diversity and inclusion, including hiring, training, career development, customer complaint resolution, team member experience, and supplier selection. The 9-month process, which will begin in early 2018, will assess American’s current practices compared to industry best, and provide recommendations to improve where gaps exist.

  2. Implement Company-Wide Implicit Bias Training: Beginning in January 2018, American will build on existing anti-discrimination training and implement annual implicit bias and training for each of its 120,000 team members. We will develop the training with an outside consultant who specializes in implicit bias awareness. In addition, we are working to refresh our conflict resolution training and education around our anti-discrimination policies.

  3. Overhaul Our Customer Discrimination Claims Process: American serves nearly 200 million customers every year. Every customer complaint received is investigated and responded to, but we can do more for people who feel they have experienced discrimination. We will create a new customer resolution team that will specialize in these complaints. This centralized focus will improve response, visibility and coordination across the company. All customers with a discrimination claim will be called by a specialist within 48 hours of filing their complaint, and an expedited investigation process will be initiated. As this team develops, case managers will track data and analyze trends to improve training and accountability across our operation.

  4. Sharpen Our Focus on Team Member Concerns: Our People Team will review and improve our internal oversight and resolution for team member discrimination claims. This will include increasing awareness of work environment policies and the process to report concerns, as well as ensuring accountability for team members who violate these policies.

I think we should all call on American to be more aware of its xenophobic rhetoric, though, because ‘flying while Muslim’ is definitely a thing.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. #3 is the most interesting point: AA promises to call anyone with a discrimination complaint.

    If minorities disproportionately buy Basic Economy fares (which is likely, as minorities are disproportionately thrifty), then we’ve got a recipe for drama. You can imagine it now: a minority sees a white person on full fare Economy board with a carryon bag. The minority is declined a carryon bag and cries white supremacy.

  2. What an idiot Parker continues to be. I’m surprised that he didn’t agree to change his name to Tawana Brawley as well.

  3. Jason what proof do you have that minorities disproportionately buy basic economy fares and are disproportionately thrifty? This type of stereotyping hogwash is ignorance at its best !

  4. @Warren — I am not stereotyping. It’s obvious that minorities earn less and hold lower wealth than whites who are more likely to benefit from white privilege, estates, trust funds etc. but I did not speculate on the cause. Naturally people with less money are forced to be thriftier than people with more money.

  5. Lets get back on track…. From a witness quoted on a prior post on VFTW: …”Tamika was rude before she boarded the plane, and was loudly yelling at the stewardess, who was clearly distraught and nearly in tears. The pilot was simply protecting his colleague.”
    And:
    “Another passenger has come forward about their experience on the American Airlines flight that Mallory was kicked off of, telling the activist, “I was on this flight with you, you were screaming f-bombs at the staff in front of kids. Everyone cheered when you left.”

    My question is: Based on the observations of other passengers, if Tamika was a middle aged, stereotypical white male or female, and made this complaint, would the NAACP have the same position? And if they took their positions based mostly on the race of the people involved, and not the facts of the situation, would they consider themselves to be an organization that somewhat discriminates based on race?

  6. Given the obviously shaky nature of these specific NAACP complaints, if I were AA’s CEO, I’m be tempted to tell them to pound sand. But that would be the wrong BUSINESS call. Better to tell the customer that they’re right than that they’re delusional.

  7. How about return customer relations phone number to assign passengers who have been harmed by Americans service failures
    Empowering agents to actually assist customers
    Restore saver award inventory

  8. Warren, sorry but SJWs can’t have it both ways.

    You can’t sometimes complain that minorities are economically disadvantaged, then claim they are not when that’s a convenient argument.

  9. On airline changing your seat, I believe all airlines contract of carriage states when you buy a ticket you are guaranteed a seat on that flight. You are not guaranteed a particular seat.

  10. Oh wow, racism is alive and well in the comments section. @Jason, when you use the word “minority” do you mean black people? Because that’s what it sounds like to me. Thank you for acknowledging white privilege, but being white does not automatically guarantee a trust fund or the ability to purchase above basic economy.

  11. Yes, these racist comments above are mind boggling Al Sarpton has nothing to do with this yet the racist remarks about him come in The NAACP is perhaps the most respected Black civil rights organization in our nation but the racists here attack it. And Jason’s asinine remark about minorities buying economy is stark racism. Well one thing for sure, Trump has a few of his White Supremacists represented on this website

  12. This is Gary’s blog and he can post whatever he feels that’s relevant to travel. However, this is the 2nd reference to this case. Unfortunately, this brings out the ugly in people. I just hope there will not be a 3rd post in reference to this story.

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