A Black woman from Alameda, Calif., says she felt helpless after being asked to move to the back of a Delta airplane mid-flight to make room for two passengers who claimed to have first class tickets, but couldn’t produce them for the flight attendants.
Camille Henderson told KABC in Los Angeles she was traveling to Atlanta with her boyfriend to visit her family in late January. This would be the big meet and greet between him and her mother.
That was soured though during the trip. Henderson said she flew exclusively with Delta, but that’s now changed.
"I just want them to acknowledge that they made me feel powerless and they can't do that to customers moving forward," she said to the news station.
On Henderson’s return flight on February 3, she said she experienced what was a major inconvenience. Ticked for a window seat in row 15, she would end the flight sitting in row 34 because two women seated in the row next to her in the aisle and middle seats complained to flight attendants about their seat assignment.
"They felt like they were ticketed first class seats, but they couldn't provide the tickets," said Henderson, who added that the complaints went on for more than an hour into the flight, at which time she started recording part of the exchange.
Henderson supplied an audio snippet to San Francisco’s KGO-TV of what she says is a conversation between a flight attendant and the two women seated next to her. One person can be heard saying, “Unfortunately, my first class seats are occupied.”
Henderson said eventually the Delta flight attendants came back with a solution to get the women more space, but Henderson would have to move for that to happen. She also noted that at no point did the attendants suggest the women sitting next to her, who were displeased with their seat assignments, should move.
"I don't want to make it a race thing, but instead of asking the two white women that were seated next to me (to move), in an attempt to accommodate them, they basically made me have to move,” Henderson said. “I just don't know why I had to move because that was the seat that I paid for, that was my assigned seat.”
She noted that she obliged with the seat change request so she wouldn’t be reprimanded or labeled disruptive.
"As I'm walking back there it's just humiliating,” Henderson described. “It's like having the entire flight look at you and asking what's going on.”
Following her flight experience, Henderson said she contacted Delta, but was unsatisfied with the interaction with a customer service representative via phone. According to a recording of the phone conversation, the representative said there wasn’t anything they could do “under these circumstances.”
That’s when Henderson reached out to local news. A Delta Airlines spokesperson provided the following statement to KGO-TV: "We are looking into this situation to better understand what happened. Delta has no tolerance for discrimination in any form and these allegations run counter to our deeply-held values of respecting and honoring the diversity of our customers."
Henderson says it’s all too late at this point and the humiliation has already happened.
"Me, as a Black woman, I was displaced to make two white women comfortable. That doesn't make any sense to me," she said.