Pioneering Travel Blogger Kicked Off American Airlines For Speaking Out Against Racism

The founder of the pioneering miles and points blog Million Mile Secrets, now owned by The Points Guy parent Red Ventures, speaks his mind. Daraius Dubash is suing the city of Houston after being kicked out of a park for speaking out on animal cruelty. Over the summer he was also kicked off of an American Airlines flight in Austin for standing up for his principles.

As he describes it to me contemporaneously, he was removed from the aircraft after speaking up when he “witnessed a racist flight attendant kick off two black passengers” from an American Airlines flight. The airline called the police on Daraius and removed him from the aircraft. Six officers responded to the scene.

Daraius was taking a trip to Congaree National Park to hike for his birthday weekend. He was on a 6:15 a.m. departure to Charlotte out of Austin, connecting to Columbia, South Carolina.

During boarding he saw an African American family – a mother and father and teenagers – enter the aircraft. The teens “seemed a bit confused where they were sitting, and took perhaps an extra 30 to 60 secs to find their seat.”

The middle age white flight attendant kept giving the boys dirty glances, twitching his eyebrows, and then came up to the boy and asked him very haughtily if there was going to be a problem. He was a bit confused, and one said something to the effect of “I was looking for my seat.”

The flight attendant shook his head dismissively, did a “tsk tsk” and said something to the effect of “You’re not listening to me etc. That’s it!” and then walked with determination to the back of the plane, and I was pretty sure he was going to call the cockpit which he did….

An airline representative came on board to remove the young man. His mother left with him, while the father and other child stayed on board.

Daraius was talking to the passengers next to him in his row about what had happened, and and he took a photo of the flight attendant during the safety briefing to support a complaint he intended to file with the airline. The crewmember saw him take the photo, “and said don’t take more pictures of me.”

He did tell the flight attendant that he intended to file a complaint about what had happened, which is what got him removed from the aircraft. The flight attendant called up to the cockpit, and the pilot “announced that we were returning to the gate.”

Once again the same airline representative boarded, and asked Daraius to deplane. He pushed back and the whole aircraft was forced to get off the aircraft.

I said that I did nothing wrong and it was the flight attendant who seems to have the issues with his summoning people off the plane. After a bit of back and forth, she said if you don’t get off, we’ll have to deplane the entire plane. And I said that she could do what she wanted. So they announced that the plane would de-board. The boy’s dad (who was in front of me) then tells me that his wife texted him that a posse of cops had arrived at the gate and were waiting for me!

His seatmates were airline employees and spoke to the waiting officers on his behalf.

As we got off the plane the AA rep pointed me to the cops, and the cop asked if I was the one who wasn’t getting off the plane. I replied that I’m out of the plane and de-planed with everyone else. So they separated me and interviewed my seat mates and the boys and their parents. They eventually found that there wasn’t anything criminal going on. I appreciate that the lead officer said that it was a customer service issue and the posse of 5 or 6 of them went along.

And the blogger was rebooked onto the next flight out, since he’d been kicked off the airline wasn’t going to put him back on board the flight that had long since missed a D0 on-time departure.

While Daraius adds, “I still think that the process of Captains listening to [flight attendants] without any independent investigation is just rife for abuse,” as I’ve explained 49 USC § 44902 provides broad latitude, within certain bounds laid out by the FAA, for the captain of an aircraft to refuse transportation to a passenger if they feel that passenger might be “inimical to safety.”

A pilot’s decision cannot be arbitrary or capricious – but that’s not the same as saying it has to be reasonable! It’s generally presumed that the actions of the pilot are reasonable, and judged based on facts the pilot was aware of at the time and the time constraints they’re under.

  • If they’re given only one side of the story, and it’s incomplete
  • And they make a decision based on that information
  • And they’re in a rush to get the plane out
  • That’s probably going to be fine under the law

So if the captain felt that a passenger could be a safety risk solely because a flight attendant told them a passenger was a security risk (whether the flight attendant’s view was reasonable or not), they’re probably within their rights to kick you off the plane. The pilot, in a hurry to transport passengers, isn’t held to a high standard of investigation.

That doesn’t seem fair here. It sounds like the flight attendant was unreasonable in the first place. Perhaps they didn’t sleep well before the 6:15 a.m. departure. And taking offense at criticism just doubled down on the issue. Too many crewmembers get their back up when their authority isn’t respected.

Here’s video of the police, acting professionally while acknowledging that it was improper for American Airlines to involve them, saying that this was a customer service issue – and expressing concern over how events unfolded.

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, 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. I hope the publicity Daraius has stirred up causes a few FAs to think twice about getting huffy and throwing people off planes for what is not a safety issue at all. Would be good if there were reviews and repercussions for calling out the police without good cause.

  2. I have personally flown with that FA multiple times – he’s extremely nasty and hostile for no apparent reason to the point it’s comical. I’ve sent customer service an email or two about him before – as have others. AA is well aware of his behavior – they just simply don’t care.

  3. I’m no fan of Daraius but I think he did the right thing. If I’d missed an important connection as a result of his refusal to disembark I might feel differently though.

  4. Good for Darasius. The racists need to be terminated. Hopefully Ben Crump will sue on behalf of the family that was improperly kicked off.

  5. It seems every time I read about an issue with a headline you write, I automatically assume it is AA. I am rarely disappointed. Not sure what’s up with AA.

  6. I am a little confused right now. When did this incident become about race? Just because the people who were involved were from multiple race categories I do not see that this was racist act just yet.
    As the article suggests that a Captain should investigate before determining who should get kicked off a flight, readers of this article should investigate further before labeling the flight attendant a racist. This story was written from the perspective of one person who happened to be involved. Some independent passenger perspective would have been helpful to gain a better understanding of what actually occurred. Perspective is reality to human beings.
    Don’t get me wrong. I am not taking the side of the flight attendant nor I am I taking the side of the passengers. I am reserving judgement until a clearer picture of the incident unfolds. I am not comfortable calling someone a racist just because someone takes action against someone of another race. That action has to be motivated by a hate or dislike of that race in order for it to be a racist act.

  7. Ben Crump is a dishonest scumbag but I have no reason to doubt Daraius. He has a good reputation among av enthusiasts.

    I hope this FA finds another line of work… or doesn’t fine work and moves into a cardboard box.

  8. Getting information on a “super cheap flight” makes a blogger a “great guy?” Wow!

    Question: Can Daraius be sued in civil court for causing other passengers to miss connections/vacations/meetings with his refusal to “de-board?” (I too still dislike the word . . . disembark seems more appropriate.)

  9. Flight attendant sounds like a jerk but so is Daraius. What right does he think he has or what point was he trying to make by making everyone have to disembark? He could have easily gotten off the plane and then file an official complaint without harming the rest of the passengers. IF I KNEW HE WAS THAT MUCH OF A SELFISH EGOTISITICAL JERK I WOULD HAVE NEVER FOLLOWED HIS BLOG ALL THESE YEARS. What good comes about by hurting all the other passengers on the plane. A truly selfish person. He could have made the same point without hurting others.

  10. Given this post was 90 days ago, this comment is for posterity….

    When stupid white people confront misguided authority there is no “category” adjective to virtue-signal.

    When “protected classes” confront misguided authority, the virtue-signalling adjectives are always used regardless of context.

    The FA in question here falls in to a protected class that is uniquely ill-suited to work in the post 9/11 environment re: 49 USC § 44902 and the Authoritai currently enjoyed by cabin crew to invoke the “inimical to safety” card.

    One of his upline superiors is also in the same protected class that forms a cabal in certain stations inre: advancement, bidding, holding lines, etc. They look out for themselves. Those not of the same protected class regardless of tenure are scared shitless to do anything about it. And so now we have 20 years of it’s perpetuation and infestation of the AA FA workforce which is already fragile.

    Avoid eye contact with this FA, pretend you do not speak English, and keep your headphones on whenever possible. Attempt to avoid any interaction whatsoever with this FA and others of his protected class.

    Disclaimer: I am left-of-center, but the “rules” of the 20th century no longer apply in the post 9/11 airline cabin.

Comments are closed.