A prominent rapper has told his followers on Twitter he will avoid flying on American Airlines. The warning stems from a recent onboard incident which led to a racial discrimination lawsuit.
Yesterday I discussed a disturbing case in California in which a black passenger and five witnesses onboard sued American Airlines for racial discrimination. The passenger claimed he was singled out for poor treatment due to his skin color. American Airlines insists he was removed for repeatedly trying to self-upgrade to first class. Other passengers, however, disputed the account from American Airlines.
Now a popular rapper is claiming that black passengers are having “more and more” problems with American Airlines. He’s also stated he will not fly American Airlines again until improvements are made.
O’Shea Jackson, known professionally as Ice Cube, is an American rapper and filmmaker. Over the years, he has used his platform to wade into politics and other social controversies.
“Black people are having more and more problems with American Airlines. They need to fix their attitude before I fly them again.”
Black people are having more and more problems with American Airlines. They need to fix their attitude before I fly them again.
— Ice Cube (@icecube) June 19, 2020
Responding to the tweet, American Airlines said:
“American is committed to ensuring all of our customers are treated with respect. Anything less is unacceptable and would be addressed appropriately.”
Rapper Attacks American Airlines: Why It Matters
This tweet matters not just because we live in a celebrity-crazed culture that cannot think for itself. It matters because this is a prominent figure and he kicked American Airlines directly where it hurts most.
AA received mounds of good press, including from Live and Let’s Fly, for the recent interaction between CEO Doug Parker and a Southwest Airlines flight attendant on the issue race.
> Read More: American CEO Doug Parker Has Earned My Respect
After the NAACP and other prominent civil rights groups cautioned against flying American Airlines in 2018, American Airlines has labored intensely to improve its image as a carrier that treats all passengers with dignity.
But all of that trust has evaporated under the latest accusations.
As more facts emerge, the latest racially-charged story become more questionable. American Airlines now insists it did not “ban” any passengers for what happened onboard.
“None of the passengers were ever banned. We offered to rebook everyone, and those who chose not to fly were provided a full refund. We want to reiterate that all affected customers who didn’t reside locally were provided with a hotel voucher.”
But the damage has been done. Ice Cube’s tweet, whether fair or not, reinforces exactly the image of American Airlines that it does not want. Even if it turns out this story is merely a pathetic fabrication, the egg cannot be put back together…
This isn’t just about a rapper cautioning millions of people over flying American Airlines. It is the sort of PR nightmare that American Airlines will struggle to recover from, even if it turns out the passenger in question did deserve to be thrown off and was not targeted for his race. If I were American Airlines, even if the facts were on my side (and to be clear, that seems questionable after five other passengers defended the ejected passenger), I’d just leave this issue alone and stop digging…
image: Ice Cube / Flickr CC 2.0