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NAACP Issues Travel Advisory On American Airlines

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The NAACP is warning African Americans that they should be wary of traveling with American Airlines because of "a pattern of disturbing incidents" specific to the airline.

The organization issued the statement on Oct. 24, noting that the travel advisory is in effect until further notice. The statement lists a series of incidents regarding the airline that African-American travelers reported.

"The NAACP for several months now has been monitoring a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African-American passengers, specific to American Airlines," said the NAACP's statement. "In light of these confrontations, we have today taken the action of issuing national advisory alerting travelers -- especially African Americans -- to exercise caution, in that booking and boarding flights on American Airlines could subject them disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions."

The NAACP cited four incidents in its advisory, including one in which a black man was reportedly required to give up seats that he had purchased from Washington, D.C. to Raleigh-Durham because he had responded to discriminatory statements from white passengers.

In another incident listed, a black woman who had booked first-class tickets for herself and a white traveling companion was switched to a coach seat at the ticket counter, while the white passenger was allowed to stay in first class.

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A pilot also reportedly asked that an African-American woman be removed from a flight after she complained about having her seat changed.

In the final incident listed, a black mother and her infant child were removed from a flight after the woman requested that her child's stroller to be taken out of the checked baggage before she disembarked from the plane.

The NAACP condemned the airlines' actions in these incidents, adding that the organization is concerned the reported incidents may only be the "tip of the iceberg."

"All travelers must be guaranteed the right to travel without fear of threat, violence or harm," said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson. "The growing list of incidents suggesting racial bias reflects an unacceptable corporate culture and involves behavior that cannot be dismissed as normal or random. We expect an audience with the leadership of American Airlines to air these grievances and to spur corrective action. Until these and other concerns are addressed, this national travel advisory will stand."

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American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said in a memo to staff the company was "disappointed" about the NAACP'S advisory, according to CNN.

"We fly over borders, walls and stereotypes to connect people from different races, religions, nationalities, economic backgrounds and sexual orientations," wrote Parker. "We do not and will not tolerate discrimination of any kind."

Airline spokeswoman Shannon Gilson echoed Parker's disappointment, saying American Airlines is "committed to providing a positive, safe travel experience for everyone."

"Our team members -- a diverse community of gate agents, pilots, and flight attendants -- are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds,” said Gilson, who added that NAACP representatives would be invited to the airline's Texas headquarters to discuss the travel advisory.

"We are committed to having a meaningful dialogue about our airline and are ready to both listen and engage," said Gilson.

Sources: CNN via WGHP, NAACP, CNN / Featured Image: Aceebee/Flickr / Embedded Images: Oliver Holzbauer/Flickr, Jody Claborn/Flickr

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