An American Airlines passenger accused the company of racism after they forced her out of her first class seat to the last row of the plane.
Rane Baldwin — who is Black — was traveling from Kentucky to North Carolina with her white friend Janet Novack. Baldwin purchased both tickets and upgraded them to first class seats. However, when she presented her ticket to the agent before boarding, she was given a different ticket in return.
Baldwin’s seat was now in the very last row while Novack was allowed to remain in first class. Upon questioning the airline, the women were told due to a plane change, there was not enough space in first class to accommodate. As Baldwin pressed for more answers, she was ignored by the flight crew. It wasn’t until her friend left first class seat and joined her in the back that a flight attendant showed any concern.
“When I went back to the front to ask what was happening, she said that the first-class cabin was full and that there was nothing she could do,” Baldwin told The Root. “At this point, the plane was fully boarded, but there were multiple empty rows at the front of the main cabin. I ignored my seat assignment, sat at the front, and my friend left first class and came back to join me.
“When the second flight attendant came through for a cabin check, he saw us (already buckled in, arm rest in between us up) and told my friend that there was plenty of extra space and that we could ‘spread out’ if she wanted to. He did not say this to anyone else,” Baldwin added.
Both Baldwin and Novack were shocked and disappointed to have experience blatant racism by the airline.
“This incident made me feel anger that I didn’t know I had. To say that I’m still baffled and at a loss for words is a gross understatement. Primarily, I feel guilt. There are a million things that I wish I could go back in time and do to help the situation and stand up for Rane,” Novack told the Root. “There’s absolutely no reason why Rane, an AAdvantage Platinum Select/World Elite cardholder, should have been treated as she was. There is absolutely no excuse for the fact that even after I pointed out the discrimination, all of my questions and concerns have been answered as Rane’s haven’t.”
Novack, feeling helpless about the situation with her friend, expressed her outrage on Twitter.
Novack then explained the entire ordeal through a well composed Twitter thread and American Airlines asked her to send the company a DM to sort out the issue.
American Airlines promptly responded to Novack and her concerns. However, they have yet to reach out to Baldwin, who said that she sent a letter of complaint to the company.
(Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)