There’s an interesting update regarding the racist phone call that an American Airlines customer claims to have received from the airline.
Alleged call from American Airlines employee
Two videos have been posted to social media, and it’s claimed that they’re calls that were received from two American Airlines employees. Here’s the customer’s version of what happened:
- The customer (an Asian man, which I mention given the racism involved here) was supposed to fly with American Airlines from New York to Orange County on August 18, 2021; he was booked on AA676, scheduled to depart at 4:30PM
- He checked in at the airport kiosks on time, per the check-in cutoff guidance published on American Airlines’ website; the picture he posted on Twitter suggests he checked in at 3:45PM, exactly 45 minutes before departure, which is the cutoff (he was cutting it close)
- He claims to have been denied boarding and that his seats were given away; in reality it appears the issue was that he couldn’t check-in at the kiosk exactly at the 45 minute mark, and then by the time he could get help from an agent, it was within 45 minutes of departure
- Two days later, and after two unsuccessful standby attempts and one canceled flight, JetBlue “saved” him from being stranded
- Since getting home, he has been seeking a response, but the airline “stopped responding” (it’s my understanding that the airline has now reached out to him)
- Then at 12:44PM PT on August 21, 2021, he received a “shocking phone call” from two people who claimed to be American Airlines employees
Whether or not the passenger was “denied” boarding or his seats were given away is something I’m not sure of. He obviously cut it very close, and it’s anyone’s guess who was in the right here. But that’s also not the key part of this story.
Rather what’s noteworthy is the phone call that has been posted to social media, allegedly from two American Airlines employees. First of all, the audio is not at all suitable for work or children, so listen at your own discretion.
Among other things, one of the people on the phone call says:
- “You moron, you stupid f*cking pig, you idiot, you crackhead, you dipsh*t, you wanker, you loser, you twat”
- “You stupid rice eating c*nt”
- “No wonder you’re named after a d*ck, I should just call you d*ckhead” (his last name is Wang)
I don’t think I need to keep going, because the whole thing is horrifying. The language is so bad I won’t even embed the audio, but you can listen to the first part of the call here, and listen to the second part of the call here, should you want to (again, use your discretion).
What really happened here?
Suffice to say that if this were real, it would be so beyond horrifying, and the worst way I’ve ever heard an airline employee act. This also made me instantly skeptical, since I’ve never heard of any story of anyone on a recorded line being this blatantly racist towards a customer. Ever. In any line of business.
Listening to the call, a few things immediately stood out:
- Calls are generally recorded, so an airline employee would almost certainly not act this out of line
- It’s strange how there seem to be two people on the call, which doesn’t happen often
- While the caller ID shows American Airlines’ number, that could easily be modified, and for that matter I’m not sure outbound calls from American Airlines show as that number
- While there are some call center agents with British accents, the combination of the one person having a British accent, and the other person having a fake-sounding Texas accent makes me suspicious
An American Airlines spokesperson states that the airline has launched an investigation to better understand what happened, and to determine the authenticity of the calls received. What I’ve heard suggests that the phone number on which the man was called wasn’t even in the reservation. To me, everything pointed towards this being a prank call.
And that brings us to an observation from a reader, who points out that the voice in the video sounds mighty similar to this JetBlue prank call posted on YouTube, which took place several weeks ago:
The circumstances are very similar — the guy claims to be from corporate, and he was calling in regards to a Tweet someone posted towards an airline.
The person behind this seems to be someone from “The Macron Show,” which doesn’t actually seem to be anything legitimate (and I won’t even link to it, because he doesn’t deserve the traffic). If the guy actually did this, his actions are deplorable. It’s one thing to make a good-natured(ish) prank call, while it’s a completely different thing to go on a racist tirade that’s really just hate speech.
Now, we still don’t know how the guy got the passenger’s number. Clearly he was made aware of this through Twitter, just as he was with his JetBlue prank. Perhaps he could find the man’s number on Google. However, since this wasn’t even the number on file in the American Airlines reservation, I don’t think this can in any way be pinned on American Airlines.
I feel awful for the racism that this passenger endured. Nobody should have to be treated this way. In light of these latest findings, I do think it’s probably time for the customer to give the airline the benefit of the doubt, and stop Retweeting every single negative Tweet about American Airlines (hundreds have been posted in the past few days), accusing the airline of everything from giving people coronavirus, to losing bags. American often isn’t a great airline, but in this particular incident it doesn’t appear the airline can be blamed for the racist phone call.
Someone took to social media to share a horrible, racist phone call that they received from a number that’s made to look like American Airlines. The audio is beyond disgusting.
American Airlines has been getting a lot of backlash for this, and has been called out for being racist. However, everything points to this being a prank call from someone who also recently did a prank call claiming to be from JetBlue corporate.
It’s one thing to make a good-natured prank call, but this is crossing the line, to put it mildly. Assuming this audio is from the person who I think is behind it, he should be called out for this. I’m not sure the practicality of this, but I think American should try to pursue legal action against the guy, given that he claimed to be from the airline.
What do you make of this situation? Do you think the two prank calls are from the same person?
(Tip of the hat to @jae6478)