An American doctor and his 8-year-old son are prohibited from boarding an American Airlines flight on June 30 unless he "covers" with a blanket.
American Airlines spokesman Shannon Gilson said the company had fully returned passengers for flights, but Tisha Rowe, a family doctor who flew from Jamaica to Miami, said she had not received a notification of refunds or money sent to her account.
Rowe and her son returned to the United States after spending a week in Jamaica, where his family came from. When he arrived at Kingston airport, he remembered, he was sweating and went into the bathroom to cool off before going up.
"I see myself," he said. "I know how I look, front and back." He wore a romper with tropical prints.
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Rowe then boarded the plane with her son, but a female flight attendant asked her to come out to speak.
"Do you have a jacket?" Rowe remembers the flight attendant asking, which she answers no. "You can't get on a plane dressed like that."
Rowe said he finally gave up because he didn't want to risk his flight and asked the waiter for a blanket. He said the officer kept repeating that he could not get on the plane without covering up.
He and his son finally walked back to their seats. His son then covered his face with a blanket. When Rowe peered down, she saw that she was crying.
"Mummy, follow the rules, & # 39;" he said, according to Rowe's account. "I tried to explain to an 8-year-old child – Mummy didn't break the rules."
Rowe spent the rest of the flight feeling nauseous. When the flight landed, he said, he met with another female passenger who was wearing shorts shorter than hers but who did not seem to have problems getting on the plane. Rowe told him what had happened, and the woman gave Rowe her name and telephone number, agreeing to support her in a formal complaint.
"The difference between the woman and me is that she is about 2 in size, thin," said Rowe. "It's hard to understand if you are not a minority of doubles, women and blacks, how do you not draw cards."
Gilson said the airline reached Rowe after hearing about his experience.
"We apologize to Dr. Rowe and his son for their experiences," he said. "We pride ourselves on serving customers from all backgrounds and are committed to providing a positive and safe travel experience for all those who fly with us."
Rowe said that the airline had called him repeatedly but he had explained that he wanted to discuss the incident only in writing, via email. He said he did not want to revive his experience with the company by telephone.
Rowe's lawyer, Geoffrey Berg of Houston Berg law firm Plummer Johnson & Raval, said a representative of American Airlines told him that the airline did not want to be described "in this way."
"In the face of a sexist racist attack on one of their passengers, this is a version of the company's thoughts and prayers," Berg said. "The best way to not be described like this is not to behave like this."
American Airlines references the dress code for customers in their transport conditions: "Dress properly; bare feet or offensive clothing are not allowed."
"If they expect passengers to fly around the Caribbean in June in snow clothing, they may have to include it in the transport contract," Berg said.
In October 2017, the US civil rights organization NAACP issued a travel advisor who warned black passengers to avoid American Airlines flights, saying they might experience "conditions that are not polite, discriminatory or unsafe." The warning was lifted about a year later, with the NAACP said in a news release that it had worked with airlines to implement implicit bias training and a new process to resolve discrimination complaints.
But Rowe said American Airlines had not told him how to file a complaint, even though he had requested written information and correspondence. He said the appropriate response by the airline was to recognize the negative effects of dress codes on passengers and make changes. And, he added, refunds were not enough to erase the memory of the incident for his young son.
"If you really want to fix it, you have to realize this is traumatic for both of us," said Rowe.
This is not the first incident involving American Airlines. In April 2018, a woman named Amber Phillips was intercepted by a passenger on an American Airlines flight from Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, to Washington. A flight attendant asked him to get off the plane and then call the police.
"Corporations like American Airlines are clearly led by the greed of their passengers on the plane," Phillips said at the time. "Mixed with the climate we experience in this country, mixed with the bias that people have around black people, around fat black people, around fat people in general, that they are allowed to use the bias then makes it look as if they have the right to space. "