Update: This was caused by a data matching error at Capital One
Kyetra Bryant flew American Airlines from Charlotte to Denver over Thanksgiving. She and her companion checked in at a kiosk and paid a checked bag fee. She says the charge appeared on her bank statement as “African American, African service charge.”
What is an African American African service charge??!?!? pic.twitter.com/UmR0sBGLPT
— A Simp Named Slickback (@___seeryandavis) January 29, 2021
At first it seemed like perhaps a ‘rogue kiosk’ is at fault (because while American is unable to manage processing confirmed upgrades online, they have rogue AI kiosks) or… American Airlines appears to blame Mastercard,
The customer alerted American to the offensively labeled baggage fee on her bank statement in mid-December. We were disturbed by what we saw and immediately launched an investigation to understand what occurred.
The baggage fee was purchased at a self-service kiosk in Charlotte. Our team members are unable to change text when processing a charge and we’ve determined the issue originated with the credit card company and bank issuer.
We reached out to Mastercard who confirmed that American submitted the baggage fee information correctly during the payment process and Mastercard is conducting its own investigation.
Mastercard, of course, along with Citibank and Barclays, represents the single largest revenue stream at American Airlines.
However not everyone is convinced that this is real,
When checking in at the koisk, you can nickname your charge as anything you want to. She or her boyfriend typed that in themself. The picture receipt she is using shows at the bottom how the Airlines will list the charge. She has added a “description” much like people used to write in the “memo” line of paper checks.
To be clear I have never been offered the ability to ‘name’ a transaction by an American Airlines kiosk. I have had the ability to tag transactions in a bank account.
What’s bizarre is that,
- This happened at a kiosk. If the kiosk did it, it was programmed by someone. But it’s only been reported by one customer, and that customer happened to be black. How did the kiosk know?
- I take American at their word that the transaction was submitted properly. That would suggest there was no errant programming of a kiosk.
- I’m inclined to believe this is a customer-tagged charge, until I see another charge show up like this.
For his part, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker took to LinkedIn to offer a word salad about Black History Month.
Two years ago an internal newsletter about Black History Month sent to American Airlines employees featured a stock photos of employees, not a single one of which was black.
(HT: Live and Let’s Fly)