African American Passenger Stands His Ground in Priority Boarding at Washington National Airport

On Tuesday an African American man departing Washington National airport was in the priority line for boarding when – he reports – the woman behind him told him he was in the wrong place.

He told her he was in first class so he was in the right place. Apparently she persisted, complaining about the airline boarding military personnel with priority, “we paid for our seats so he still should have to wait.”

The man continues,

Me: nope to big to ever be in anybodies military. I’m just a nigga with money 💰

Everybody waiting in line: starts to clap lmao

Washington National’s Gate 35 ‘X’ — Fight the Power

His Facebook post has gone viral, with about a quarter million shares so far and over 360,000 likes.

The assumption here that most people seem to be making is that the woman is racist. And she may be. But she also may just be:

  1. incredibly entitled and self-important, while
  2. making (poor) assumptions about how the man is dressed

He doesn’t appear to fit the profile of the ‘businessman’. Remember too that this is Washington DC, perhaps the primary city in the country where formal business attire still prevails.

When Lucky from One Mile at a Time was much younger he flew Turkish first class and a business class passenger tried to shove past during boarding,

As we were trying to board a passenger came up behind my brother and said “excuse me, I’m in business class.” Oh no he didn’t….

On Flyertalk there was a 79 page thread in the old Continental Airlines forum on ‘looking young while being elite’ and the different treatment younger flyers received from airline staff, especially when flying up front.

Goodness knows that female business travelers have their own stories.

Airline travel is exceptionally small-d democratic. It brings together all sorts of passengers from different backgrounds, and all sorts of employees (with over 100,000 employees apiece the largest airlines have individuals bringing their own varied baggage as well). And that means different cultures, different life experiences, different short cuts for sizing up people and different prejudices.

I guess all I can say to this gentleman by way of comfort, I suppose, is to be grateful he didn’t look Muslim. Muslim passengers have it far worse than anyone else in this country.

And good for him for getting the crowd on his side — that’s what gives me the most hope, that the woman’s opinion was apparently a minority one.

(HT: Southern Points)

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, 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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