Back story: The flight was delayed, approx 4 hours, on top of a 3 hour layover in Dallas. It’s Thursday night, and I was watching the Warriors / Cleveland Cavaliers game with Siqi another person in the group we were travelling with. (we just met at the game mind you)
“Over the loud speaker American Airlines announces that they are boarding group 2”
I walk to the front of the line as I’m in group 1. And my question to the gate agent was merely if I should come to the front or wait at the back of the line. (I think both Siqi + myself were all group 1 boarding )
Our first and only meeting:
Gate Agent: Philip
Philip: “Come around the other side of this line, you aren’t getting on this flight. ”
David: “What is the problem”
Philip: “You have been drinking”
David: (In my head i’m thinking, but we were watching the game ? Aren’t you supposed to ? We had a delay of over 4 hours ? I’m not flying the plane ? I’ve been waiting at the gate for 6 hours + ) . I tried to discuss with the gate agent that it is not acceptable to arbitrarily kick people off the plane. “I am not loud, or inebriated and I have done nothing wrong”.
The uprising begins:
Other passengers also realize the injustice of being singled out for no apparent reason to make way for someone else.
The first person to stand up was the Air Force refueling pilot who came from watching the same game. The gate agent threatens, and then kicks him off the plane.
The second person to stand up was a couple from Canada. Tyler (Post Doc research fellow ) / Wife said the same thing, it doesn’t seem right to kick someone of the flight who has done nothing wrong.
Their punishment was much swifter, and more irrational. The gate agent then canceled their tickets completely, and then threatened / potentially executed a “lifetime” ban on his wife.
I would like to wholeheartedly thank the people who stood up to “Philip”, because it struck me as the right thing to do, and I was surprised that more people on the flight didn’t feel confident saying anything.
Lack of checks and balances
There were no checks / balances to regulate the gate agent, he seemed to believe he could do what he liked / when he liked, and was by far the loudest voice. ? Should any 1 person be able to affect so many people so arbitrarily. \
No other agents working at american airlines booth needed sign off for this type of a response.
Philip was able to call the airport security forces without any justification as to what we had done, and why they were needed.
Philip used the security forces in an intimidation tactic to get us to tacitly sign off on getting rebooked to the next morning.
With American Airlines ticket for the next morning in hand, I decided the greatest mistake would be to get on that plane, and let the people who had stood up for me in the process try to find their own way to New Orleans.
Instead we went to Budget rent a car, and traversed from Dallas -> New Orleans overnight. The weather was atrocious we battled rain, and fog as thick as I’d ever seen to make it, but make it we did, together.
My disappointment was in the lack of process, and the lack of accountability at american airlines.
I didn’t even think I was being racially profiled, until Siqi had mentioned it on Twitter. And I realized that @AmericanAirlines has a real problem.
During the 15 minute process, I just kept assuming this was a mistake and would be ironed out.. I just couldn’t imagine why me ? But in truth the question is why not me ?
The other part of this experience was the lack of knowing why none of the other american airlines employees did anything. They just stood there, and let it happen.
Is the expectation that people of color should accept being kicked off of planes, because they are the least defended, and least likely to complain.
How can American Airlines serve me first class on one flight, but then kick me off on the other flight.
How can they board me on a plane at 8pm, unboard me, and then at midnight tell me I cannot fly because I had some beer. Isn’t that what we do in America ? Have beer and watch a basketball game ?