The NAACP lifted its months-long travel ban against American Airlines on Tuesday. Organization officials said they believe the airline has finally made some significant headway in cutting down on discrimination incidents involving passengers of color.
The announcement came after the civil rights organization advised American Airlines on diversity and inclusion after implementing the ban over “unsafe” conditions for African-Americans last fall.
“We have worked with American Airlines for nearly a year, and they have taken substantive action to begin to address implicit bias,” Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO, said in a release. “They have embraced the situation and we are encouraged by their commitment to improve upon their internal processes and increase inclusion across their airline. Our work with American has included very candid, open and ongoing dialogue about the realities for African Americans who travel with American and other airlines, and we will continue to monitor progress and share feedback with them.”
American agreed to make big changes in a number of areas: diversity and inclusion gap research; implicit bias training for the airlines’ 130,000 employees; and the launch a discrimination complaint resolution process for workers and customers. The NAACP said the airline made a good effort to ensure their business was more comfortable for Black travelers and its staff members. Surely, the airlines had some major work to do in cleaning up its previous controversies.
American Airlines has been extra disrespectful to Black passengers in the past. There was the booting of activist Tamika Mallory from a flight after a seat assignment squabble last October. The pilot ordered Mallory to leave the plane and displayed “white male aggression,” she said. Rapper Joey Badass was also racially profiled while on an American Airlines flight in January, he said. A flight attendant told him he didn’t belong in first class, he tweeted.
American also led the aviation industry with the highest number of discrimination complaints. The airline had 29 of them filed against it last year, according to data from the U.S. Transportation Department.
The good news for American Airlines may make it easy to ignore that there is more work to still do in moving forward. Airline executives should know that fighting racism will be an ongoing job.