American Airlines flight attendants accused of kicking eight black men off flight because they were 'smelly'

Thursday, May 30, 2024
 - American Airlines flight attendants have been accused of kicking eight black men off a flight because they were 'smelly',  a lawsuit alleges.

The eight men, who did not know each other, had boarded Flight 832 at Phoenix Airport for the five-hour flight to New York JFK in January.

They were all seated in different parts of the plane but all were picked out and hauled off after a 'white male flight attendant' made a complaint about 'offensive body odor' inside the aircraft, the suit claims.

Staff spent an hour looking for an alternative flight but, when none could be found, the men were asked to get back on the aircraft and retake their seats.

'I knew that as soon as I got on that plane, a sea of white faces were going to be looking at me and blaming me for their late flight of an hour,' said Emmanuel Jean Joseph.Jean Joseph and fellow passengers Alvin Jackson and Xavier Veal had each taken a connecting flight from Los Angeles before boarding the plane at Phoenix.

Veal decided to record the incident on his phone after noticing that all the black passengers, and none of the white passengers, were being removed.

A black American Airlines attendant at the desk appeared to agree with the claim that their removal was racially motivated, admitting: 'I do not disagree with you.'

 The eight men began discussing their removal and three lodged the lawsuit on Wednesday in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

'They had to re-board the plane and endure the stares of the largely white passengers who viewed them as the cause of the substantial delay,' the lawsuit claims.

'They suffered during the entire flight home, and the entire incident was traumatic, upsetting, scary, humiliating, and degrading.'

'We want our customers to have a positive experience when they choose to fly with us,' they added.

'Our teams are currently investigating the matter, as the claims do not reflect our core values or our purpose of caring for people.'

And lawyers for the men are keen to hear the airline's account of the incident.

 'It's almost inconceivable to come up with an explanation for that other than the color of their skin,' said attorney Sue Huhta.

'Particularly since they didn't know each other and weren't sitting near each other.'

The lawsuit cites other recent occasions that passengers have alleged discrimination by the carrier.

It also references a 2017 travel advisory from the NAACP in which the civil rights organization advised against flying on the airline for eight months after 'multiple instances' of alleged discrimination.

'Somebody should have stepped up and said, 'Wait a minute. We can't do this. This is wrong',' said Michael Kirkpatrick of the Public Citizen law group

'But instead, nobody stepped up and intervened to stop it from happening.'

The lawsuit alleges that other passengers were informed that the men were removed because of their smell while they were off the aircraft.

'We're walking through the aisle of shame, if you will,' said Veal. 'It was horrible. It was a really traumatic experience.

'Unfortunately, I'm a black man and I live in America.'

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