This whole story need not necessarily be framed in a black versus white lens, but this is exactly how a black woman has told her story so we will explore it from that angle. A 60-year-old black woman claims a white flight attendant backed by a white captain threw her off a Delta flight after she confronted that flight attendant for refusing to help another black passenger lift her carry-on baggage into the overhead bin.
Black Woman Claims White Delta Air Lines Flight Attendant Had Her Thrown Off Flight Due To Racial Animus
There’s doxxing involved here, which may or may not have been appropriate (I discuss below), so rather than embed a series of tweets concerning what happened, I will summarize what happened first:
- A black woman boarded a Delta flight DL2718 from Newark (EWR) to Atlanta (ATL)
- Onboard, she noticed an older black woman struggling to place her bag in the overhead bin
- The older woman had asked a flight attendant (who was young and white) to help, but the flight attendant refused
- The flight attendant purportedly “demoralized” the older woman for not being able to lift her own bag
- The black woman confronted the flight attendant, telling her that she should “do her job” and help the older woman (“It’s her JOB to assist guests and be helpful instead of criticizing and embarrassing them while watching them struggle to place their belongings in correctly.”)
- She claims she was not “aggressive or overtly rude”
- The flight attendant accused her of harassment and said, “I don’t have to take this from you”
- The flight attendant then asked the captain to have her removed from the flight
- She was removed, claiming the flight attendant “weaponized her white privilege”
- She took a later flight to Atlanta and was purportedly upgraded by sympathetic ground staff in Newark
She posted the following video about her encounter, which I’ve included below:
I’m not including the tweet because it also includes a screenshot of the flight attendant’s LinkedIn profile. I think it is totally appropriate to document names when there are service incidents aboard, but I would think twice about posting such information online.
I’d like to hear the other side of the story or from other passengers about how rude the flight attendant was (if at all). I suspect there were harsh words exchanged by both sides in order for the black woman to have been thrown off. However, I have little doubt that the flight attendant was hostile.
Unlike other carriers, Delta flight attendants are not unionized. While US flight attendants are generally exempt from lifting carry-on bags, this is a job listing for Delta flight attendants:
The key word is “assist” with the implication being that most of the work is done by the passenger, but I can see it being interpreted as a duty to “assist” a passenger by lifting it for them.
As I’ve noted before, required or not, the best flight attendants already help with this, even if they do risk injury. Because they know that the chances of injury are minimal when you bend your knees and lift carefully and that passengers greatly appreciate the assistance.
Although the passenger frames this story in such an overtly racial way, I wonder if the flight attendant was just grouchy to everyone and did not target the passengers because they were black. And I wonder if the ejected black passenger would have stood up for an older white passenger being harassed…it seems the answer is no based upon the way she tells her story, which is also sad if her assistance was based on skin color and nothing else. Why didn’t she help the passenger?
Ideally, if you cannot lift a bag, that bag should stay at home. Furthermore, asking those fellow passengers around you is the easiest way to get help with your bag.
A black woman claims she was thrown off a Delta flight by a white flight attendant and white captain because she stood up for an older black passengers being picked on. That may well have been the case, but I think the important thing here is that a flight attendant who refuses to help a passenger lift her bag should be more helpful by trying to find a passenger who is willing to help. This was a needless escalation.
(H/T: View From The Wing)