American Airlines CEO Speaks Out After Removal Of Black Passengers

American Airlines CEO Speaks Out After Removal Of Black Passengers
WASHINGTON, DC – SEPTEMBER 12: Robert Isom, CEO of American Airlines, speaks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Aerospace Summit on September 12, 2023 in Washington, DC. The summit brings together industry experts and government leaders to discuss topics affecting the aviation industry. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

American Airlines CEO Robert Isom is speaking out after a discrimination lawsuit alleged that eight Black passengers were kicked off a flight over a body odor complaint.

Isom wrote in a note to staff that the incident was unacceptable.

“I am incredibly disappointed by what happened on that flight and the breakdown of our procedures,” Isom said in the note this week. “It contradicts our values. … We fell short of our commitments and failed our customers in this incident.”

Body odor complaint

Three Black passengers – Alvin Jackson, Emmanuel Jean Joseph, and Xavier Veal- sued the airline last month, charging that they were removed from the January flight because of racial discrimination.

They said they were told that a white male flight attendant had complained about an unidentified passenger’s body odor.

The lawsuit states the eight passengers were kicked off their January 5 flight from Phoenix, Arizona to New York “without any valid reason, and solely based on their race.”

“Representatives of American told them that they were removed from the flight because of a complaint about a Black male passenger who allegedly had offensive body odor,” the suit states.

The eight men weren’t seated together and didn’t know each other.

According to the lawsuit, the men didn’t have any offensive body odor, and “at no time did anyone ever specifically accuse any of them of having offensive body odor.”

In Tuesday’s letter, Isom said the company would “focus on improving the travel experience for Black customers.” The CEO also thanked NAACP President Derrick Johnson for expressing concern over the incident.

“Be assured that we are steadfast in our commitment to working with the NAACP and other civil rights organizations to learn from this incident, listen to and rebuild trust with you, our team members, and our Black customers,” Isom wrote.

According to reports, the employees involved in the January incident have been put on leave amid an investigation.