Womens March Co-Chair Kicked Off American Airlines Flight, Says Pilot Was Asserting White Privilege

Womans March co-chair Tamika Mallory was kicked off an American Airlines flight from Miami to New York yesterday which was taking to attend Reverend Al Sharpton’s daughter’s wedding.

She had a middle seat on the flight but managed to change herself to an aisle seat using a kiosk. However she was called to the gate and given a new boarding pass for a middle seat. She challenged this and says the gate agent was “nasty” and “disrespectful.”

Mallory reports that the plane’s pilot overhead the exchange and stepped in.

The pilot told her the airline worker had “nothing to do” with her seat getting changed and that she was the one who behaved disrespectfully.

“Then he said to me, ‘Can you get on this flight? Are you going to be a problem on this flight?’ I said ‘No, I’m not. Actually, I’m fine. But I will write my complaint down,” Mallory said. “He looked at me and said, ‘You’re going to get yourself a one-way ticket off this plane.’”

She boarded the flight but was then called to the front of the plane and kicked off. Police were called. Her travel companion was removed from the flight as well.

She was rebooked for a flight Sunday evening, but missed the wedding (Sharpton’s daughter herself nearly missed it too). Mallory sees it as a racial issue.

In response I’d simply note that I’ve watched — and documented on this blog — myriad instances of gate agent, pilot, and flight attendant power trips against white passengers as well (in fact, more often against white passengers although I don’t have sufficient data to suggest whether such incidents are proportional to the traveling population).

Here’s Tamika Mallory in her own words.

At this point we only know Mallory’s version of the story. We don’t know why she was moved back to a middle seat after changing to an aisle. American says they’re investigating.

“Our team does not tolerate discrimination of any kind,” American Airlines spokesman Joshua Freed said. “We take these allegations seriously, and we are in the process of reaching out to our colleagues in Miami, as well as Ms. Mallory, to obtain additional information on what transpired during the boarding process.”

(HT: Ken A.)

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. This whole getting thrown off a flight for being a nard seems to be the new get famous quick scheme. You’re not Rosa Parks lady, your just obnoxious.

  2. People have learned to use social media to spin their version of the story. As someone who worked for the airlines, I’ve seen the employee power trips, but more often I’ve seen passengers treat airline employees like untouchables and servants. My guess is she was probably being abusive to the agent and crew.

  3. Remember when calling out someone for being racist usually meant a white person that hated blacks. Now it seems being racist is a rude person that hates whites regardless of their own behavior or failures. On the other hand maybr she just bought a basic economy ticket and didnt know any better. Come to thing of it…is basic economy an evil white man scheme to keep black people oppressed at the back or middle seats against their given rights. I wonder what Mr. Sharpton has to say about all this white male privilege.

  4. It’s obviously impossible to know at this point what happened on this women’s flight. US airlines sometimes provide poor service to people of all colors. Similarly, people of all colors sometimes are nasty to airline personnel. The odds that the pilot threw her off the plane because she was black are, statistically, very, very small. But if you live in a world where you think “white privilege” is a big deal, you probably won’t believe that.

  5. Here we go, #VICTIMALERT #VICTIMALERT, take responsibility for your own actions woman, go and find another airline, man-up #crazylady and stop interrupting my flights

  6. Gary, I appreciate you posting a piece about this incident. Your “in response”, however, is exactly Tamika’s point about the power white men (or those which appear white) wield over black women.

    You (1) said it happens to white people too, (2) said it happens to white people as frequently as non-white people, and (3) said 1 and 2 were not fact-based.

    One question, what were you seeking to achieve or provide by including your “in response”?

  7. Hmmm who’s going to be the racist always trying to categorize people by color? The entire AA staff in the middle of their daily work schedule or the lady with ties to al sharpton?

  8. If all you have is a hammer, everything you see needs to be nailed or broken. At least until you have broken everything in sight.

  9. What was the race of the pilot? The gate agent? The police? In order to properly assess white privilege we need to know the race of all parties involved.

  10. @ iahphx – you say “The odds that the pilot threw her off the plane because she was black are, statistically, very, very small. But if you live in a world where you think “white privilege” is a big deal, you probably won’t believe that.”

    I could argue equally that “The odds that the pilot threw her off the plane because she was black are, statistically, very, very small. But if you live in a world where you think “racism” is not a big deal, you probably won’t believe that.”

    What one says about such things betrays an awful lot of that bias to which you obliquely refer….

  11. Sometimes you have to pick your battles…she could have taken the seat , went to the wedding and discu’ssed with Sharpton later how to deal with the issue…instead of going with the drama.

  12. So booked a ticket on AA in MCE when I was Platinum in Feb. AA changed the plane and I got moved to the last row of coach. Of course, I’m not a Mind reader like Ms Mallory who apparently knows what people are thinking but I think the seat move by AA was racial and prejudicial. When I jumped up and down and carried on like a fool, AA refused to put me back in MCE. It had to be racial. Or maybe ageist? Could have been financial. Whatever. My outrage boils over.

  13. @Yossarian “My guess is she was probably being abusive to the agent and crew.” See @Joe comment above “What one says about such things betrays an awful lot of that bias to which you obliquely refer….”

    @Yossarian, there is no where near enough evidence to make any sort of (educated) guess at this point. Your post was good up until that last line. The mere fact that you “guess”/side with the airline, in the complete absence of any facts to back that assertion, indicates that you are biased against this woman. Perhaps because she is black, perhaps because she is a she, perhaps because she is an airline customer and you’re an airline employee or perhaps you’re just having a bad day….but, for one reason or another, you are displaying bias and the world needs less of that.

  14. @LJ – in response was not “in disagreement” but rather “here are some open questions” (if i was offering disagreement i probably would not have been flagging insufficient data to make a strong claim)

  15. I’ve been in Italy for the past week and a little bit behind on the news. When is the “Women’s March” protesting Harvey Weinstein and his crew?

  16. Has any member of the press tried to get the flight attendant’s or airline pilot’s side of the story? What exactly was said when she got her boarding pass?

  17. It’ll be an interesting day when airline employees start wearing pocket cams like the cops. Then we’ll see both (1) how many employees go on power trips when they’re having a bad day and (2) how many customers act like babies when they don’t get their way. Anyone who has flown with any regularity has seen plentiful examples of both.

  18. Man this whole racist angle is officially played out. If you raise your voice and cause a scene in an airport, you may not be flying regardless of race. Everyone wants to be a victim. How about people be responsible for their actions first.

  19. Keep spending that race-bs capital down… plenty of blacks are already rolling their eyes if not outright embarrassed.

  20. This happens all the time with AA. I had the police called on me at the Boston airport. I did a same day change at check in. The agent put me on the wrong shuttle flight – which I ended up missing. Needless to say it took me three visits to get things straighten out at the gate. It was without a doubt the check in agents fault. Needless to say, I said that the check in agent was “incompetent” (which clearly she was). The gate agent threw her hands up, said she was noting my account, call her manager and the police. I’m an EXP on AA and was nothing but nice to all the employees. Needless to say another gate agent told the manager and the police that there wasn’t any issue and the agent was over reacting. The same gate agent then walked on the plane and told the capitan to keep an eye out on me – that I’m a problem. I was literally speechless at this point. It happens all the time with AA – don’t ever tell them they don’t know what they are doing they take it way too personally.

  21. @A – thanks for sharing. AA’s customer support and front-line staff are, for the most part, incredibly poorly behaved. It’s the exception when I encounter a polite and pleasant gate agent or flight crew. AA is on the fast slide to the bottom when they put such bitter staff out in front of the customer… And it’s incredibly disappointing for me since AA offers a much more efficient flight schedule on one major route I fly, but I find myself even choosing to leave the night before on DL now rather than facing the wrath of AA front-line staff. What a shame…

  22. Maybe i would have had sympathy for her but when she made it all about race that suggests to me she has a chip on her shoulder and she was likely the one causing a problem. You don’t get to verbally abuse the staff and then be surprised when there are repercussions. Im certain she downplayed how she acted towards the gate agent.

  23. You are not “entitled” because you are black. If you are a concern to the Pilot or passengers, you should walk to your destination.

  24. Oh, Mallory….you poor cupcake.

    The world is out to disrespect you.

    Maybe you can find a black pilot for your next flight.

  25. Don’t be silly WilliamC, there aren’t that many of them about. They are all out looting. Oops sorry shouldn’t have said that. They are all out ensuring that the underprivileged get their fair share of society’s wealth. There isn’t that better?

  26. I don’t particularly care for the negative aspects of social media, and I’m not so sure of the positive aspects true worth.

    I also don’t think airline customer service culture will change unless the old guard, which have been through so much pain for little gain, rotate out over time..

    As a minority I can sympathize with the need to overcome stereotypical perceptions, but overcoming that also takes a leap of trust and faith on our part as well.

  27. Oh come on, we’ve all seen that type of attitude coming from a certain segment of the population, who then turn around and claim discrimination when their shitty behavior is questioned. Queue tears, “emotional distress” and a quick trip to some ambulance chasing lawyer…3…2…1

  28. why is it a common occurrence when someone gets kicked off a flight an equal number of posters say it was either: it was the passenger’s fault or the airline’s fault? Just asking.

    You see, I long ago learned a lesson when I jumped to a conclusion because I did not know the facts. Let’s remember. Your entitled to your opinion, not your own facts.

  29. One word of advice to the pilot: Fly the plane. Let the cabin crew manage the cabin, while you concentrate on the cockpit. Customers can tolerate other customers errant behavior and when necessary cabin crew can take extreme actions to remedy such complications. What neither customers nor cabin crew can do is FLY THE PLANE. Take off, Cruise, Land. That’s it. No distractions. No headaches. No second guessing your customer interaction. Show me the flight simulation where you had to handle a situation in the cabin. Show me where you passed that part of the simulation, otherwise, don’t go there.

  30. No one has called Harvey weinstein super predator yet.

    Whites use different language for other whites than they use for non-whites exhibiting the same behavior.

    Racism is so pervasive that it is sickening

  31. Sharpton’s daughter was getting married. The same one that attacked her uber driver & stole his car keys, then threw them away? The same one suing NYC for a bad sidewalk that caused her to fall and sustain permanent damage & emotional distress? But she could still (pictures) walk around in high heels? And she could ho hiking up hills after her fateful fall, again pictures. Sharpton is a sleazy, lying conman and his daughtet learned at his knee & is a major, “do you know who i am” entitled bitch.
    If this woman is friendly enough yo be invited to the wedding, well, you’re judged by the company you keep. And she keeps shitty company.

  32. The problem with social media is a psycho like Tamika is able to find an audience for that ridiculous video she posted as she ranted.

    Grow up, Tamika.

  33. The amount of racism – both overt and casual – in the comments on this article is disgusting, and Gary’s suggestion that “this happens to white people, too,” smacks of All Lives Matter far too much – this is why People of Color in this country are angry: white people just don’t see the ways they consciously, subconsciously, and unconsciously discriminate, prejudge, denigrate, demean, dismiss, and distrust People of Color. That’s all racism and all a function of white privilege, which many of you clearly have and do not see.
    This is the last day I read View From the Wing.

  34. Anyone else have the patience to watch her sobbing and explaining what happened?

    She is illiterate.

  35. To Ralph4878

    The only racist us you…..the less niggers on planes, the better. Gary knows this, since this was not a story. Instead, he (as a self-proclaimed journalist who embezzles cash through other people’s college loans) uses some black racist, false social-justice nigger as click-bait. Gary has no stories to earn miles and points. He’s the rocking high-cholesterol flyer now…..look at his fat puss when he takes pictures of himself—-the next B_Watson from Flyertalk who blew his brains out.

    So good fucking riddance Ralph4878, you’re probably a nigger too.

    Black Lives Matter? Wrong. No More Niggers!

  36. I used to work for an airline and can attest to the job that front line employees do. They try their best and sometimes do not make it easy for them to do their jobs. That being said, we all have unconscious bias, bad days, and other blind spots.

    Likely what happened, though, is that the computer glitch painted the airline staff into a corner and the customer was not happy to fly middle seat. Who would be?

    As in Avenue Q, “Everybody is a little bit racist.” is so true.

  37. Tamika, it’s not that you are unworthy of respect.

    You are just plain unworthy.


  38. Having worked the gates for many years I think she bought a ticket that allows no changes at all…the gate agent noticed that the kiosk boarding pass was missing something and checked her original booking and discovered she had a middle seat..I bet she was told she needed to buy a new ticket if she wanted to sit on the aisle which was probably 3 times more than expensive and she didn’t want to pay…but still wanted
    an aisle thus the big showdown…Saw it happen many times…

  39. Ralph4878 – glad to see you go. Anyone ever told you that White is also a color? So what does people of color mean? If you mean blacks and browns, say so. I don’t have a problem being called “White”. You are right, white people of color in this country are angry. Look at the crime statistics. See how much higher percentages of black and brown people of color than white people of color murder, rape, loot and rob. Maybe that is why white people of color consciously, subconsciously, and unconsciously discriminate, prejudge, denigrate, demean, dismiss, and distrust black and brown people of color, even when they are not sitting in the middle seat when they are “entitled” to sit somewhere else.

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