Passenger Disputes Story of Basketball Players Kicked Off American Flight for Stealing Blankets

American Airlines hardly needs stories about young black men kicked off a flight unreasonably in the aftermath of the NAACP issuing a(n unjustified) travel warning against the airline.

Yesterday I wrote that two professional basketball players were removed from an Envoy Air (American Eagle) flight after being accused of stealing blankets from first class. They were apparently given the blankets by first class passengers. American Airlines apologized.

However a reader says that he was on the flight and the narrative being broadly reported — such as in the Dallas Morning News and ESPN as well as wire services and outlets around the world — is wrong.

Daren Lockett writes,

I was on this flight. This is not what happened. The blanket issue was resolved immediately. The two passengers threatened bodily harm to the flight attendant. That’s why they were escorted off the plane.

And further,

The [flight attendant was] black. It wasn’t a race issue.

He posted this publicly as well, so while I cannot directly verify that he was on the flight (or that his perception is accurate) I can surmise from the Facebook post matching the comments here that this is a real individual sharing their story.

It seemed worth sharing that the conventional wisdom — and the reporting I relied upon in sharing the incident yesterday — may not be accurate. And American may still be apologizing whenever race comes up regardless of the facts thinking that they cannot win that kind of argument.

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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  1. Just cause the flight attendant was black she is still able to discriminate people based on the coulour of their skin. Like a black police officer can just check black people by this only black people are getting reported. BTW that’s why racial profiling is bad 😉

  2. Until all the facts are known, comments on these stories is just speculation colored by our own stereotypes and misconceptions. In this case, knowing the sexual orientation of the individuals involved could be as important as knowing their race to understanding what happened.

  3. Hi John. Apparently you like many others choose to be selective on what you report someone has posted on Facebook and the context of said posts. Gary I wholeheartedly invite each and every one of your readers to check out my FB page. It’s under Daren Lockett. Think you’ll be surprised. And again, the incident on my flight was not about racism. The FA was a black male doing his job. He felt threatened by the two passengers and reported it to the captain. The captain had them removed for the safety of everyone on the flight.

  4. blah blah blah. It was such a short flight why did they need blankets anyway. They were in economy as well which couldn’t be comfortable being such a tall stature. Guess they could use any additional comfort they could find. Also Israeli airports stereotype like crazy and they are one of the best at it. Also blacks are about 13% of population but commit about 53% of murders in the us. Coincidence? predisposition to violence? Fair questions.

  5. @Darren Lockett, Hi. There seems to be a misunderstanding. I have not looked at your facebook page nor reported on what is there or the context.

  6. @dan – there is no proof black Americans commit 53% of crimes, just that they are incarcerated more. There is a big difference in that, and this has been long discussed for several decades now.

  7. Maybe it wasn’t racist. Maybe it was gender discrimination against males. Maybe it was because they are tall and the FA hates tall people. Maybe Sheila Jackson Lee stole their first class seats after they already had the blankets. Maybe…..

  8. “he blanket issue was resolved immediately. The two passengers threatened bodily harm to the flight attendant.” I am still confused about the connection. If the issue is resolved immediately, why would these players just randomly threaten a crew??? Or does “resolved” means that the cabin crew first accused of the players and then realized that it was given by passengers in first? If so, I am sure the players were still angry because they were accused and they felt it was because of their race (that is natural because blacks are mistreated all the time). I don’t think that is a resolution. But I am happy to learn what happened between the resolution (and what sort of resolution?) and bodily threat. Something is missing…

  9. We should not need to verify a story by doing our own research on a Facebook page. That task is for the blogger. Finish gathering the relevant facts and then post the story. AA should do a simple investigation as well before issuing a blanket apology. They owe it to all their customers and crew.

  10. @dan I agree with you about value in stereotyping. My friends have finally begun to believe that all white males are rapist (not racist, rapist) scumbags expecially after weinstein, trump, ailes, O’Reilly, Matt Lauer etc.

    White males are rapist scumbags.

    Watch your enabler(Gary) take down my comment but leave yours. Racism is ingrained in this country.

  11. Dan blames the victims….that is what Black people face….white people commit crimes but don’t suffer the consequences that people of color do…racisim at it’s worst

  12. Allan, how about some facts to back up your assertion that blacks suffer consequences more than the white population?

  13. @Bill Smith and dan, The 2007 study you reference is a study of the rates of victimization of violent crime. It does not support the claim that Blacks commit 53% of homicides. The study does say (p, 3) that of the homicides committed by Blacks and Whites, Whites kill spouses or partners at twice the rate Blacks do. And it takes no study to know that all most all mass murders are committed by White men. What does that say about White men? Feelings of self pity, frustration and impotence? Fair questions.

  14. >And it takes no study to know that all most all mass murders are committed by White men.

    I should hope so, given white men are a much bigger percentage of the population.

    Are you saying black men or white men commit murder at a higher RATE? And yes, that takes a study.

  15. John, the study DOES address who committed most murders. From page 3:

    “In 2005 most homicides involving one victim and one
    offender were intraracial. About 93% of black homicide vic-
    tims and 85% of white victims
    in single victim and single
    offender homicides were murdered by someone of their
    race. ”

    Falsely denying that blacks murder at a higher rate than do whites is a racist lie.

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