American Airlines Responds To Customers Who Object To Crew Wearing ‘Black Lives Matter’ Pins

Over the past several days American Airlines has come under both criticism and applause for allowing crewmembers to wear ‘Black Lives Matter’ pins and even beginning the process of making a standard pin for employees to choose to wear.

On Wednesday American gave instructions to all of its phone representatives on how to handle complaints related to the airline’s allowing crewmembers to wear Black Lives Matter pins on their uniforms. Here are the talking points call center employees are supposed to use:

  • American Airlines believes in equity and inclusion for all.

  • Some of our team members saw the Black Lives Matter pin being worn at other airlines and companies and asked if they could do the same.

  • We will allow team members who wish to wear a Black Lives Matter pin to do so if they choose.

  • Fundamentally, we believe Black Lives Matter is an expression of equality, not a political statement.

  • It doesn’t mean other lives don’t matter, rather that in our society Black lives should matter and be valued the same as others.

  • We are showing our support for our Black colleagues and customers who have experienced discrimination and injustice, not any paricular organization.

    • Our Christian, Veteran and LGBTQ groups, for example, have developed their own pin that can be worn as part of the uniform.

    • In the interim, until this pin is produced, we are allowing team members to wear a Black Lives Matter pin.

And then American drops the mic, “If a customer requests to cancel their ticket, notify the customer that a refund will not be provided.”

Of course equality is a political statement, though hopefully one that many people can agree with. American wants to suggest that they aren’t out on a limb here, employees are requesting it because other airlines are doing it too.

Still those are actually good and reasonable talking points I think. They aren’t endorsing any agenda other than equality so let’s not confuse this talking about what some people associated with the BLM movement want that you (and I!) might object to.

While the controversy seems to have initially been stirred by some American Airlines flight attendants who object to the message, especially those who consider it to be oppositional to police, I think the potential grounds for reasonable objection among employees could be that this special uniform exemption excludes other employee messages – contra American’s claim about all the pins that can be worn, a flight attendant cannot for instance wear a PETA pin or a Freemason pin.

However the company is choosing to make an exemption based on its own prioritization of the message. That’s absolutely political, and it’s consistent with corporate marketing, and that’s within their reasonable discretion I think.

If you write to American about this issue, here’s the message you can expect to get back,

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. You have a uniform you should be proud to wear it without having your own personal beliefs attached. Before long the uniforms will look like NASCAR suits.

    Maybe we can get the military to start advertising on their uniforms too.

    Enough of the crap, just do your job. AA has enough issues without pissing off the rest of the potential customers.

  2. Re: American Airlines permitting employees to wear BLM pins on uniforms: I wrote to them to express my outrage. This is reply I received.

    September 10, 2020

    Hello Mrs. Wille:

    Thank you for contacting Customer Relations.

    At American Airlines, we believe in equity and inclusion for all. Some of our team members expressed a desire to show support for their Black colleagues and customers with a pin, similar to what we have seen at other companies. Black Lives Matter is an expression of equality, one that affirms the value of Black life. It is not a political or partisan statement, nor does it mean that other lives do not matter or matter less.

    American is not expressing support for a specific organization or third party, however we do stand in solidarity with the movement for equality and justice for Black Americans. Supporting our flight attendants in their choice to wear a Black Lives Matter pin, designed by members of our Black Professional Network, one of our Employee Business Resource Groups, is a show of support for the lives of our Black colleagues and customers, and recognition of the racism and injustice they face.

    As an airline, creating connections is our business, and we exist to bring the world and people closer together. We are committed to continued dialogue to better understand the journey of our Black team members and customers. We proudly stand against racism and discrimination of any kind, and believe Black Lives Matter.

    Mrs. Wille, thank you again for writing us and giving us the opportunity to address your comments.

    Sincerely,

    Michele Blaze
    Customer Relations
    American Airlines

    AA Ref#1-29405987374

    American Airlines, however, does not participate with an ADR in resolving disputes.

  3. I always wonder why people get so upset about this stuff. I understand the argument that uniforms shouldn’t look cluttered and would agree except the number of times I have seen AA personnel wearing a variety or pins and tags that are clearly not part of their uniform, it makes me wonder why suddenly are people so upset about this particular item

  4. Systemic racism has been in the country since the country was born. Trump was not around.

    That he says the folks in a white supremicist March where some were sporting the Nazi insignia is telling however.

  5. I completely support Americans decision on how to approach this issue. They cannot alter their approach to issues on equality based on pressure from fringe groups. This decision has reafirmed my decision to fly American on a regular basis in order to support their company culture. Thank you!

  6. LOL at the idiot who basically claims racism is dead because Obama (how we miss a good and decent president) was elected

  7. I always believed that a work uniform was to make all employees uniform. Work is not a place to trumpet your cause be it good or bad. I dont really care what you believe in. I ride this plane to get from point A to B not to have a flight attendant share there belief. All it does is open a door for arguments. It a situation AA doesn’t need or any other business for that fact

  8. Perhaps an ALL LIVES MATTER pin would handle the situation to express inclusion while not signaling any race in its title;-)

  9. All this does is create problems for the employees. For the employees who choose not to wear the pins, you’ll have a contingent of customers who criticize or show disdain to the employees. And you’ll have it on the opposite side too, for the employees who choose to wear the pins. Then, there’s also the attitudes from fellow co-workers and the potential problems that that could bring as well. Just seems like a disaster waiting to happen. Why even put the employees in that environment and predicament?

  10. In my opinion what difference does it make? Everyone has an opinion or how they feel and everyone should be respected..Their uniform honestly doesn’t make a difference to any passengers. Everyone should live and let live.

  11. The most simple solution… Duh… No employee is allowed to wear anything on their uniform that is not a part of the uniform! The only thing shirt/blouse, pants/skirt, etc. are all parts of the uniform. Pins, banners, ribbons, buttons, etc. are NOT part of the official uniform! SIMPLE!

  12. Congratulations AA, you jumped on a popular band wagon. Excuse me while I feign being impressed. Get in line behind the other companies and celebrities waiting to pick up their self righteous and holier than thou medals.

  13. dI was all for the movement until this week, that movement is nothing but bullies thugs and looter, im tired of getting up turning on the news and watching a black lady go bezerk. screem to person that serves and protects!! saying why is it because im black?! I wanted climb thru Tv and screem back at her saying no hes confronting you for you psychotic ranting and disturbing the peace I support the police! and some are thinking they are above the law.Im over the movement because of the behavior.I was on your side til this week

  14. Wouldn’t you want to be part of the solution, not the problem?
    We need to help unite this great country right now, not divide it.
    Airlines should be neutral and apolitical. I don’t travel to my vacation to be reminded of the problems we have in this nation, I go to escape them.

  15. This was the source of an issue s couple of years ago regarding BLM pins worn by crew members. A passenger complained about it and rightfully so. The uniform is a representation of the company you work for and as such has no place for controversial political statements. Especially ones such as this one. Thats a policy that should not be negotiated. And crew members shouldnt even ask to wear one.

  16. The remarks from people who just don’t get it is their own racist opinion. It is very sad that a non black person doesn’t understand. Enough is enough!

  17. Screw you American. Where is the support for police, military and first responders being treated like shit on the daily? Poor representation of diversity and a worse business decision. Can’t wait to see this bite you hard.

  18. UA-NYC says:
    September 11, 2020 at 7:27 pm
    LOL at the idiot who basically claims racism is dead because Obama (how we miss a good and decent president) was elected

    I never said racism was dead…but um good try!

    PS – Good luck November 3rd.

  19. BLM pins are a political statement. What is American going to do when an employee wants to wear a MAGA pin or a Biden pin or a Trump pin? These too are political. It has opened the door to some First Amendment issues. Their lawyers should stop all pins except official American Airlines logos and name tags. I will avoid American in the future like others have said.

  20. I”m going to wear the pin labeled “Stop the Pedos!” If you don’t wear it then you like pedos. We also have a website at StopThePedos.com which sells merch and has a list of demands and aspirations, just like black lives matter. We demand that legal age of consent goes to 11, so they can buy guns, vote, and best of all- be able to date us.. This is BLM- a slogan that everyone agrees with but is also so much more

  21. “If a customer requests to cancel their ticket, notify the customer that a refund will not be provided.”

    Good. Because racists shouldn’t be flying.

  22. That part about allowing Christians to wear pins is a lie. As an embarrassed employee I can tell you no other pins are allowed.

  23. Blm has turned into a reprise group. Look at what their leaders have said. Threatened mayor Lori Lightfoot with more looting if she did not release the protestors. Threatened on Fox News and the. New York post to burn the cities down if they won’t get their demands. Now blocking a hospital er threatening the lives of other officers

    No company should allow this groups message until the leaders disabi. Themselves from this kind of behavior American needs to be neutral for this can affect employee relations morale and customers I don’t want a political state e t coming from a company They are there to move people from point a to point b and not offend customers or employees because the media and the democrats have jumped on the bandwagon.

  24. GP says 0n Sept. 19th 2020
    Black Lives Matters represents the worst for the Black Community. I know I don’t want white thugs saying they represent me and then kill cops and burn city blocks. I don’t see American Airlines or Delta employees crying about those who were hurt during Black Lives Matters rampage who had nothing to do with the George Floyd death. And I still say this is not about racial injustice. I feel that if there wasn’t the election in November we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Black Lives Matters is a tool being used by the Democratic Party who are trying to stop voting at the polls so they can push through as many fraudulent ballots. This is what this is all about. Democrats are afraid they will lose this election.

  25. BLM, same as ANTIFA are terrorists groups. For an Institution that is to “SERVE THE PUBLIC” to wear Pins, banners, labels are RACISTS. The moment they allow to wear BLM they support a CRIMINAL GROUP. WILL AA BE OKEY IF I WALK IN WITH A BANNER OR PIN: ALL LIVES MATTER/ BLUE LIVES MATTER/ JEWISH LIVES MATTER/ HISPANIC LIVES MATTER? IF YOU ALLOW ONE GROUP THAN YOU SHOULD ALLOW ALL OTHERS.
    BLM pin does NOT!!! mean inclusion! IT MEANS EXCLUSION of others. BLM IS A CRIMINAL AND TERRORIST GROUP WITH MORE $ in their organization than entire AAIRLINES HAS. if AA is that ignorant, then shame on you. You offend CUSTOMERS. AIRLINES IS NOT A PLACE FOR PROPAGANDA AND RACISM WHICH YOU ARE PROMOTING. USED TO LOVE AA. NO LONGER
    Educate yourself about BLM and ANTIFA. Find out WHO ARE PROMOTEING THEIR RIOTS, LOOTERS AND KILLINGS. ARE YOU AA, PART OF THE CORRUPTION AND CRIMINALS ACTIVITIES? SHAME ON YOU AA.

  26. Have flown over 2 million miles with AA and have flown my last mile with them. BLM is a Marxist organization that supports the Dems. I support all Iives but not Marxism. AA just like other Corporations falling in line with the sheep.

  27. I have used AA for years and all over the world in my 37 years as a Bio. Med. Eng. but as of this low life post from AA I will never fly AA as this is do non-American. I am also a GOP member but this is just BAD business / and you do NOT need my money. Goodbye

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