A couple was shocked to find an unexpected service charge from American Airlines on their bank cards: an African American service fee. American says it is disturbed and blames Mastercard.
Black Couple Charged “African American” Service Fee On American Airlines
Kyetra Bryant and her boyfriend traveled with American Airlines to Denver (DEN) over Thanksgiving, departing from Charlotte, North Carolina (CLT). During check-in, she used a kiosk to pay for her checked baggage. Her boyfriend did the same.
However, when she reviewed her bank statement, she found an odd charge for the luggage:
African American, African service charge.
At first she thought it was a display error, since she was viewing her statement using her mobile phone. But she looked again at home and verified the charge did indeed appear with that description. The same charge description appeared on her boyfriend’s statement, who paid for his baggage separately.
What is an African American African service charge??!?!? pic.twitter.com/UmR0sBGLPT
— A Simp Named Slickback (@___seeryandavis) January 29, 2021
She reached out to American Airlines and even returned to the airport to complain. No one was helpful. In fact, the telephone agents thought she was crazy. Bryant told Fox 46:
“She’s like I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m like I have a screenshot here on two different phones and a computer, and it says it’s from American Charlotte, and I want to know why it’s listed this way?”
She also reached out to her bank, who blamed American Airlines. American Airlines now says it is investigating and blames Mastercard and a rogue kiosk at CLT for the issue.
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.
I cannot imagine any scenario in which this was deliberate. Still, terrible optics even if this was a purely a Mastercard issue. Whatever the root cause, hopefully it is quickly addressed to avoid future heartache and headaches.
image: American Airlines