American Airlines asked Friday for a meeting with a New York-based organizer of the Women’s March on Washington, whose social media posting about an alleged incident of racial discrimination by a pilot has gone viral, spawning a hashtag, #Happened2MeOnAA.
Tamika Mallory took to Facebook Live last Sunday after she was booted off a Miami-to-New York flight, tearfully recounting how the pilot scolded her after she had a disagreement with a gate agent, then demanded she be removed after she asserted she’d be filing a complaint.
The black activist’s 30-minute video — followed by a barrage of tweets — drew more than 515,000 views and 6,400 “likes,” has been shared more than 4,800 times, and has triggered a tsunami of mistreatment allegations by customers of the world’s largest carrier.
“Any time there is a breakdown in communication, we listen and learn. Through the conversations we’ve had with Ms. Mallory, we believe it is time to engage in a face-to-face dialogue,” said Shannon Gilson, spokeswoman for the airline. O’Hare is its third largest hub.
“We have also heard the voices of customers responding to Ms. Mallory’s social media posts, sharing experiences with us inconsistent with our commitment to treating all customers with equality and respect. That is why we have extended an invite to Ms. Mallory to meet with key members of our team,” Gilson said.
Gilson declined to address whether Mallory’s removal from the flight was justified.
“Got a call from an exec at @AmericanAir today,” Mallory tweeted Friday. “A meeting will be scheduled in the near future. No resolution yet. Our voices had been heard.” She added: “I won’t just be speaking on behalf of myself; I’m asking for policy changes for ALL of us. Keep sharing your stories with #Happened2MeOnAA.”
The airline and Mallory, 36, have concurred on how the incident started, both saying it began after Mallory secured a seat change at a kiosk, and arrived at the gate to find the new seat unavailable. The accounts veer from there. An American spokesman said the gate agent “apologized for the error and attempted to de-escalate the situation,” and Mallory was rebooked.
Mallory then held a press conference Tuesday, accusing the airline of mischaracterizing the incident. In her Facebook broadcast, she said the black female gate agent laughed at and dismissed her concern over the error, and Mallory told her she felt “disrespected” and asked for an apology. The white pilot, overhearing the conversation, scolded Mallory, she alleged.
Mallory said when she told the pilot she was going to file a complaint, the pilot asked her if she was going to “behave” on the flight, which took her aback. “I didn’t say anything. I sat down. I did not say one word to anybody. The next thing I know, my name was called,” she said. And when she went to the front, the pilot was telling police officers, “Yeah. Her. Off.”
Her traveling companion was also booted from the flight when he spoke up about her removal, said Mallory, who was rebooked by airline reps after her flurry of tweets, including one asserting: “Only reason this pilot got involved was to assert his white male power over who he thought was just some uppity black girl. That’s it.”
Mallory earlier this week rejected outreach by lower level airline reps, demanding a meeting with senior level management and an investigation into the pilot’s actions.