Woman Claims American Called The Cops On Her For “Flying While Fat & Black”

Filed Under: American, Media

There’s a story circulating at the moment that was shared by Twitter user @AmberJPhillips, regarding an incident she had on a short American Eagle flight on Thursday from North Carolina to Washington DCA. This situation is especially problematic for American, given the race issues they have — last October the NAACP issued a travel advisory warning African Americans that they could be subjected to disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions, when flying with American Airlines.

So, what happened in this particular incident, which ended with the police being called? As Amber describes it, they were on a small regional jet, and she claims that the woman next to her spent the entire 45 minute flight making a scene because their arms were touching. The woman asked Amber to move over, except there was no way she could.

Amber then decided to take pictures and video of the other passenger to document the incident, which made the other passenger uncomfortable. As they deplaned and got onto the shuttle, the flight attendant called the cops, as the woman claimed she had been assaulted. The entire shuttle had to be stopped, and then law enforcement showed up to question people. Eventually everyone was sent on their way.

An American spokesperson said the following regarding the incident:

“We contacted law enforcement at the request of another passenger on the flight. We have an obligation to contact law enforcement if any passenger requests it (just as we would if someone requested medical assistance, for example).”

It goes without saying that we don’t really know what the intentions were of the lady who was apparently being a nuisance the whole flight. Some people are just total grouches when they fly. Unfortunately time and again we see that minorities are disproportionately on the receiving end of that. That’s not to say that Amber’s seatmate was necessarily being a grouch because she was racist, though it also can’t be ruled out.

I’d note that American’s policy prohibits unauthorized video recording or photography of other passengers and employees, so when the passenger asked Amber to stop and she kept recording, I do think she was crossing the line by continuing to do so. I get she was irritated and was treated unfairly, though she wasn’t actually recording anything that was happening (the lady was quiet and acting normal at this point), and wasn’t deescalating the situation. At this point I can’t help but feel like she was trying to provoke her further.

What’s most interesting to me here is American’s statement that they have the obligation to call law enforcement if any passenger requests it. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but it does remind me of a situation I wrote about a while back, about a 16 year old who was flying Silver Airways and was interrogated for taking a picture, because another passenger thought he was acting suspiciously. I take issue with there not being a higher barrier for the cops being called.

So I guess my general perception here is that:

  • It sure seems like the lady making a fuss had an unnecessarily bad attitude; whether that’s because she was racist or just in a bad mood, I’m not sure
  • It’s one thing if you’re recording an incident that’s going on, but I think it crosses the line when you’re just recording someone and taking pictures of them without their permission while they’re not doing anything; she said she was doing this to “document the incident,” but I’m not sure what exactly was being documented at this point
  • The barrier for the police being called regarding flight incidents is generally too low, though in this instance I’m not sure it was uncalled for; it’s entirely possible that the way Amber was being treated could be considered assault, though continuing to record someone against their will and in violation of airline policy is problematic as well
  • Regardless of what the cause of this incident was, it’s very bad news for American, given their current race issues

Here are some of the Tweets from Amber regarding the incident:

  1. No one should be fat. Then it won’t matter if you are white or black because then you will be hot.

  2. Lucky I can agree with what you say on a lot of issues but this is different than Silver Airways. If a passenger accuses another passenger of an assault then yes American does have a duty to call the authorities. American should not be making determinations on whether an assault was made or not. Let’s pretend that’s an assault actually took place and Amecian did not call the police. Then they are opening themselves up to a liability with the victim. Either way in this sue happy world what was their alternative.

  3. Those AA regional jets that take off and deplane at DCA Gate 35X are the worst — and the FAs on those routes act as if they hate life. The planes are so small that people touch sitting next to each other.

  4. I completely disagree with you that minorities are grouchier:

    “Some people are just total grouches when they fly. Unfortunately time and again we see that minorities have more issues like this, which is a problem.”

    I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here but it’s not appreciated.

  5. i second the above, this could have been solved if the lady wasn’t fat…a normal sized person shouldn’t have to cede space to a fat person’s fat rolls, that is disgusting on so many different levels. Frankly, I wouldn’t want my arms rubbing against someone else’s fat the whole flight either, i don’t care what color their skin is.

  6. @ Alan — Sorry, that clearly wasn’t expressed correctly, and I’ll update the post to make it clearer. What I was trying to say was that minorities are more often the victims of these situations.

  7. Yeah, it doesn’t seem like this situation has anything to do with being black, white or any other color.

  8. @Alan He was saying that minority’s passengers have had many incidents where they are victims of grouchy customers. That is true as it is displayed a lot in the media that fat people or black people have problems with grouchy customers.

  9. If you don’t think that she should have taken pictures of the other passenger without permission, then why did you post one of them in the article?

  10. I feel that she is using her race as an exscuse to be rude on a plane. No one cares that you are black. Videoing someone is trying to provoke a situation.

  11. A couple of things stand out on this.

    I can see why the lady had an issue initially as during the video it is clear that the lady taking the video is taking up some of the other lady’s seat space.
    She objects to being filmed and photographed, quite rightly. Having said that not sure it was necessary to call the cops.

    Secondly, the lady broadcasting her grievance immediately refers to her seat mate as a ‘white’ woman. Not a ‘grouchy’ woman, or a ‘horrible’ annoying woman but by her race. Could it be possible the lady just had a problem with being sat next to someone who obviously doesn’t fit in the seat??

  12. 1) Lack of critical thinking displayed by blogger and commentators, as people simply believe what people on Loudmouth Central (aka “Twitter”) write about.
    2) Use of adjective “white” without case implies embedded racism in said person using said adjective. A simple “the person next to me” would have made everything clear enough.
    3) Recording (not videotaping) without the consent of the person being recorded is a violation of the Illegal Write-tapping law.

  13. So, you say that minorities are disproportionately on the receiving end and you kind of assume that it is the fault of white people. Did it ever occur to you that it could be the minorities causing the problems, or making it about race? How do you know that Amber is not the racist ? I mean, this chick has a shirt on that says “ melanin.” That would be sign right there that she is a certain kind of person. I guess something like this just needs to happen to you, in order to see what I am talking about. Don’t think it never will. One day your life and career might be ruined by someone like Amber.

  14. “Could it be possible the lady just had a problem with being sat next to someone who obviously doesn’t fit in the seat??”

    Sure. But what’s the point of grousing about it for the 45 min flight? It’s not as if the black lady could have moved. I’m sure she would have if she could – who wants to sit next to someone like that? And then what’s the point of claiming that the black lady assaulted her?

  15. Lucky, I’m disappointed that you wrote about this story. I expect this from another well known travel blog, but you usually avoid covering the more jerry springer parts of travel. I really enjoy your blog, but I come here to read about travel and not read about this type of stuff that fills up 90% of the media airwaves on a daily basis.

    I also don’t think its appropriate to blast the photo and a video of a woman who clearly did not consent to be filmed all over the internet with allegations that she is a racist. Putting her out on the internet like this unfairly stigmatizes someone who may have simply had issue with an overweight person taking up seat space she paid for.

    In addition, you made certain statement such as “the lady who was apparently being a nuisance the whole flight” – apparently? The source of this information is the woman on twitter I don’t think its apparent at all. All we have is the word of someone who has every reason to blow this out of proportion to try to exploit the situation. Maybe that statement is true. Maybe it is not, but we don’t have any unbiased evidence. We don’t know what the other passenger said, we don’t know what the crew observed, we don’t know what any of the other passengers observed. Seriously what evidence is there at all that this woman is a racist? Even if you take everything this person said on true I don’t see how anyone can suggest she is racist. That would mean that anytime someone has a disagreement with a person who is not the same race as them that racism is always going to be a possible cause which is absurd. Would it be really surprising if she reacted the same way to an overweight white person encroaching on her paid for seat space?

    In terms of contacting the police AA absolutely has an obligation to contact the police. If they are told that a passenger was assaulted don’t you think they have an obligation to notify law enforcement and let them investigate? I sure as hell do. If some woman claims she was raped in an airplane bathroom don’t you think AA has an obligation to call the police even if they have doubts about the claim? A crime is a crime and while the degree of the crime varies it still needs to be investigated by the proper authorities.

    AA is in no position to do any sort of criminal investigation. Also, it seems this twitter person is following the woman around the plane and taking her picture, which could easily be considered harassment. If someone was following you around taking your picture after a dispute I think you would consider it harassment and want the authorities contacted before things escalated. What if the passenger being photographed asked for the police, AA refused to call the police and things ended up escalating and the twitter user attacked her causing injury? Do you not think AA would have significant legal liability in that situation? Things like that happen all the time, so what is the harm in calling the police and letting them handle it. This is a dispute between passengers and not a situation where AA staff is calling the police to act on their behalf.

  16. I really dislike touching anyone I don’t know. I fail to see how the aisle seat is at fault for wanting to sit in the seat she purchased. The window seat was clearly aggressive by recording the whole thing. FA should have made accommodations for the aisle pax.

    These were not problems in the past with wider seats and more legroom (yes, I know that legroom would not help with a shoulder or girth problem but it leads to other issues).

  17. @johnf agreed.
    I also don’t think this was racially motivated. While racism is obviously very bad and wrong, I do think too many things are regarded as racist. I don’t believe this was racism at all. The woman didn’t like the other woman‘s fat on her. Agreed. Would feel the same way. If you are too big for coach, then you’ll either have to book business/first or two seats. I know, it sucks having to do that but everything else sucks for your fellow travelers. And them also starting to film the person who wants her to move over… unacceptable. Of course I also feel bad for the overweight woman since Shem was clearly also having a bad experience here, but this is not American‘s or the fellow travelers fault.

  18. I spent many years flying in Economy where often my space was encroached by many large people, many of whom were men. I can’t imagine that woman would have made a 45 minute scene if the passenger next to her had been a man of any race. It’s hard to imagine that in 45 minutes of this, the FA didn’t intercede to try and keep this incident from escalating.

  19. @snic

    You are right she probably couldn’t move but everyone has different levels of patience and maybe this lady was a really short tempered grumpy woman. But when she asked the lady to stop filming she should have. Yes she complained constantly but I don’t see how that warrants the reaction.

    Nobody brought race into this until the lady immediately referred to the ‘white’ woman next to her. Having someone with a camera in your face against your will is a form of assault.

  20. @Ben L… Hahaha! Comment. Of. The. Year!!!

    Now for my substantive comment. Given the tone of Amber’s posts, I would have expected the woman next to her to be a raving lunatic when video recorded. The video is the only objective evidence of their encounters and it shows Amber silently trying to record her and the woman next to her staying within the confines of her seat shielding her face. She didn’t even try to put her hand over the imaginary line between the seats to block the camera. That doesn’t mean she was behaving appropriately beforehand, but it certainly doesn’t look like she was being combative.

    The other thing we can clearly observe, and Amber does not appear to refute, yes, Amber’s body was extending into her neighbor’s seat. The angle makes it difficult to tell how much room she is taking up.

    I always HATE when people stick their elbows over the armrest and into the space of my seat. Even a small incursion means the usable seat space is significantly decreased. If an elbow and forearm are leaning 1.25″ over the armrest the effect is much more than a loss of that are where the elbow/arm are located. The passenger also loses the ability to effectively use the space above and below the point of intrusion — unless the passenger contorts his or her body around the elbow/arm. In a 17.25″ wide seat, a person intruding 1.25″ over the armrest is taking up over 7% of the usable seat space.

    I have never tried to push anyone’s elbow off the armrest or anything. I just silently fume and if the person gets up to use the rest room I then make sure my arm is firmly against the armrest on my side. I surrender the armrest itself; it’s all yours. But don’t put your elbow or arm such that it goes over into my seat. That’s all I ask. Like I said, this is a silent anger. I never sigh loudly, roll eyes, or anything like that. Every time I have encountered this problem it has been from a normal-sized passenger. Fortunately I have not had an inconsiderate “passenger of size.” There are several posts on various blogs about how to deal with that situation delicately and without embarrassing the person. It’s a tough situation. Obviously the large person is not comfortable.

  21. the fat woman should be charged extra for taking up too much space and sued by the person she harassed. We understand fat shaming obviously has a negative impact on Amber, but her fatness is ruining her seat mate’s flight. Instead of getting offended and trying to bring race into it and shame American into paying her reimbursement (b.c. hey black lives matter), she should consider how her fatness affects others. No one wants to be touched by strangers on the plane, unless you happen to find the particular stranger attractive. It’s sad but true.

  22. This is all about a large person taking up to much space on a plane. Bad form lucky to throw the race card. And she is the one blatantly injecting race with her white woman comments and melanin shirt. So one sided and unfair. Your sjw posts are the worst. This looks more like bullying by a large woman against a smaller one because she dared to be annoyed that half her seat was taken up.

  23. Lucky, I cannot tell but do you have any minority blogger in your team? Was that ever a consideration in your recent selection? Gender balance as well?

  24. I never comment on these threads, as I usually have nothing to add and reading the comments reveals the worst in many people. So having not read the comments, I’ll add this:

    I’m of average size and stand 6’1″. I’ve been on the heavy side (not obese) and the very skinny side. Even as a very skinny person, I have never *not* have my arms or shoulders touch the person next to me when sitting in the back of the plane on regional jets with a 2×2 seating layout. The only way I can avoid this from happening is if the person in the window seat twists/contorts their body, or if the person in the aisle leans into the aisle a bit, which usually results in getting biffed by a cart.

    So while I’m confident the comments above are full of racist vitriol and/or fat insults, I’ll calmly say that touching arms/shoulders is pretty much always a problem. Unless one is literally from Lilliput, in which case they’ll have no problem with touching any body parts with the person next to them.

  25. Honestly, airfare has gotten so cheap, that on the rare occasion that we fly coach instead of First Class, I just say I’m “fat” and book a 3-seat row for the wife and I.
    Thus, I assure noone sits between us.

  26. Amber, get a clue.

    You don’t need American Airlines or a white woman to humiliate you.

    You are doing it all by yourself.

  27. It’s not just touching arms. Melanin was at least four inches into the seat next to her. If your that big you Should have to buy two seats or a first class one. Those planes are tiny with two average sized persons.
    Then add on top the obnoxious filming and derogatory use of white woman in her posts. I doubt lucky would have posted something if it was reversed.

  28. Simple thought experiment…keep every aspect of the story the same but reverse the races of the two women involved (i.e. overweight white woman filming African American woman in seat next to her and then tweeting about “this black woman”) would you still have posted this? Would it be appropriate for the white woman to call out her seatmate’s race? There’s a lot we don’t know here, and if the seatmate did say nasty or racist things or otherwise “assault” Amber, then shame on her that’s outrageous and pathetic, but…we have no evidence of that other than Amber’s own claims which don’t make any mention of the woman in question making any racists statements, she just says she was “making an active scene because my arm
    was touching hers”…So based on what we know I just don’t get the need to call out anyone’s race or the relevance of the seatmate’s race other than the obvious fact that it generates more controversy and attention (i.e. this post).

    Also “…it’s entirely possible that the way Amber was being treated could be considered assault” suggests that basically anytime someone is upset with someone else or “acting grouchy” it “could be considered” assault, which is neither the legal nor the dictionary definition of assault…at least not in countries populated by adults. (To be fair, we don’t know what was said or done beforehand other than the claim that the other woman was “making a scene”, but that sure doesn’t sound like “assault”.)

    More importantly, it seems pretty obvious the real issue here is about the challenges of flying for people who are “of size”, both for them or for their seatmates. I agree to the extent I don’t understand why the police needed to be called…seems like overall yet another reminder to treat each other with dignity and civility when we fly. Also seems like a lack of both was at issue here and whatever happened initially, it sure seems like, just based on the video and her tweets, Amber was more eager to provoke/exploit the issue than she was to settle things down.

  29. @TravelinWilly

    Yeah, the seats on the CRJs/ERJ 140 series planes are insanely narrow. Unless you are rail thin, and don’t have broad shoulders, there’s just no way you aren’t going to accidentally touch the passenger in the seat next to you at least a few times by accident. I get that the seatmate was annoyed, but its not like the other woman could really do anything about it. Just suck it up for the 45 minute flight and stop making a big deal about it.

    Also to those who say that this had nothing to do with race, Lucky is correct that minorities tend to be treated worse in this type of situation. While I don’t believe that the woman complaining was a full on white nationalist, its more likely than not that subconscious bias led to her being less forgiving and understanding of the situation here.

  30. I am 6’3 and my sleeve length is 37″. My shoulders are broader than the seats on most of these regional aircraft. My giraffe legs often simply cannot “slide” under the seat in front of me, I have no choice but to have my knees limit another passenger’s recline. My weight is not disproportionate to my height (at least that’s what my Tinder profile says 🙂 but even if I lost 50 pounds and looked like a death march survivor none of the above would change. I make every attempt to be courteous and accommodating of my seatmates but there are some immutable limits. So let’s stop with the fat-shaming and acknowledge the realities of cramped flights for people whose size falls outside the very narrow “normal” distribution that can sit comfortably in a coach seat. Amber may or may not be a grouch (and the filming seems unnecessarily provocative), but it does seem that her seatmate could have shown a bit more sensitivity. What’s Amber supposed to do? Lose 50 lbs before takeoff?

  31. Let me get this straight. These people are now playing the race card on airplanes?

    As a frequent flyer, “plus size” passengers should have to by two seats period. Southwest is good at this. I cannot tell you how tired I am of having to accommodate the biggies. They touch, lean, sleep on you and they act like its normal.

  32. Best solution is to carry a book or magazine with you. Then use it as barrier so at least your elbow or legs aren’t touching. Perhaps it’s antisocial but so is taking up someone else’s space and touching a complete stranger. Usually it’s guys of all shapes, sizes and colors who spread their legs or go elbow crazy on the armrests.

    Last month I rode middle seat on a southwest flight and the guy in the aisle seat had absolutely no qualms about putting his elbow a full inch past the armrest into my seat. He looked like he might go off so I didn’t ask him to stop but brought out my book and pushed. I considered looking for a different seat but figured it was a short flight 45 minutes.

    I’ve really started to hate flying because of this, but honestly I blame the airplane manufacturers and airlines for not giving passengers more space.

  33. When I book and pay an entire seat for the use of a entire seat on a flight, I do expect that I will have use of that entire seat. If a person sitting next to me takes up more than their seat, then they should be paying for the use of more than one seat. I don’t think this is a race issue, as I couldn’t care less about the color of the skin of the person sitting next to me. I simply don’t want them (or any part of their anatomy) in my seat and I too dislike strangers touching me. This is the airlines’ problem as they are continuing to cram more people into smaller spaces. It is the flying public’s problem as more of them are becoming larger. If you are a large person, it may get be best to acknowledge that fact and book two seats for your own comfort and that of those around you. These days, one should be cognizant of arm rests and seat backs so as not to impinge of the very limited personal space of other passengers. 17 x 31” is not a lot of space. If you don’t fit, book something larger.

  34. Lucky is very considerate. He doesn’t take photos of cabins or lounges with people in it. Occasionally, there will be a person in the lounge but it’s the back of their head that you see in the distance. In contrast, this woman is video-ing while the victim is trying to hide her face. The African American lady is being very aggressive.

    Strike 2 is that she is really taking quite a bit of the other woman’s seat.

  35. Force them to buy 2 seats . I love it when a FAT couple won’t seat next to each other but want me to !!!!!!!!!!

  36. > We have an obligation to contact law enforcement if any passenger requests it (just as we would if someone requested medical assistance, for example).”

    Hang on…wasn’t it AA who only last week killed a passenger by not making an emergency landing as requested by a doctor?

  37. Lucky,

    Why does media, in this case you, insist on trying to create a race issue whenever a non-white person claims to be/is a victim of almost any situation. Your statement that we “can’t rule it out” only lends itself to racism and not the possibility that a PERSON is taking up have of an other person’s seat. And if society would stop the “only white people are racist” guilt trip and hold every one accountable for their words and actions, people might actually get along. Because if we are being honest, Amber sounds a little racis. No need to say the white women because we all know the media frenzy that would follow if the white women said “that black women”

  38. Lol. Oh lucky, I thought you get enough traffic already, why post this as you know the comment section will go through the roof! Wait, ok, never mind. I just answered my own question. Lol.

    Both ladies are at fault really… the fat one should have bought two tickets if her fat roll invade other people’s space since she didn’t pay part of her neighbor’s ticket. The white one should have just kept her mouth shut as it’s a shot haul and every once in awhile, we all have to endure fat/big one next to us…. not end of the world unless it’s a looooong international flight.

  39. The Fat lady should have put herself against the window to keep her fat away from her seatmate!! and to then start photographing her seatmate!!never a good theng to do///No color or racist issue here just fat and invasion of one’s privacy!!!

  40. Follow the link to her personal page and it will be extremely evident who the real problem is. She even describes herself as “petty AF”, like that’s an accomplishment to be proud of.

    Amber, you’re fat. Not everyone wants to be victimized by your long history of eating too much and doing too little to burn the calories.

    And you are desperate for attention and love drama. You post that you “feared for your life”. How pathetic! Did you think that when the other woman raised her hand to block your rude and offensive need to take a photo of a non-event that she was actually in some sort of kung fu stance?

    The people that should be most offended by your drivel are those that are actually affected by racial prejudice because you’re the kind of person that makes other people stop listening. You apparently learned nothing from the story about the boy that cried wolf.

    Your rolls of fat and sense of entitlement are the problems. With those, it doesn’t matter what your race or gender is, you’re offensive to a significant portion of the population. Feel free to call me “insensitive” all day long, but I really don’t see why it should be my problem that someone who thinks a bag of chips and a liter of Coke is a snack, and two burgers, three large fries, and a milkshake is lunch.

  41. Amazing how public discourse has changed in the era of Trump. Instead of blaming the airlines for continuing to shrink seats so that many people of normal size have trouble fitting shoulders and arms into the space provided (to say nothing of hips) we blame the passenger who can’t easily fit into the child sized seat. I see little blame attributed to the other passenger who could not simply try and deal with the situation without complaining about being “touched” throughout the duration of the flight. EVERYONE who flies in those miniscule seats gets touched- and you can endure a great deal more for 45 minutes in the interests of being a good neighbor. One does have to wonder, however, of the complaining passenger would have been as vocal had the other passenger been a white man with broad shoulders. If she would have, it wasn’t racism. If she wouldn’t have, race was an issue. In either case, she certainly made ME consider racism when she charged assault and by doing so brought in the police.

  42. How´s that anyways with conditions of carriage and all that? Can I request the airline to compensate me or provide me another seat if the person next to me takes away half of the seat I paid for? This really should be a problem for the FA´s and the airline, not the passenger…

  43. Wow, what’s really interesting about the comments to this post is how a lot of people are uglier about weight than many are about race. There sure are a lot of “perfect people” out there.

  44. @Ken
    Why would gender or race be a consideration? It would make no sense and in fact it would be the very definition of discrimination if that had been a consideration when expanding the OMAAT team. Tiffany has made very clear what their criteria were when bringing new authors on board. And of course gender, race, religion were none of them.

  45. this is an example of overuse of #metoo race card. She’s overweight and demanding that she is entitled to more space than she paid for, as well as demanding that the customer who paid for their seat has no right to the area that they paid for. It’s purely immature whining for attention. It reminds me of people that blow up when someone points out they are in the wrong. Sad, and very immature.

  46. Nowadays it’s almost fashionable to make it all about racism.
    The race card is used so often that it is maxed out by now.
    Which is unfortunate because by the time we encounter real racism we’ll be completely desensitized. Like with The Boy Who Cried Wolf.
    I am not a racist but it would bother me if part of my neighbor’s ample body spilled into my seat. Ample bodies are often sweaty, too, so I understand the lady who was unhappy with her obese spilling out of seat neighbor. Wouldn’t you be?

  47. Lucky – PLEASE continue to report on travel issues such as this. Regardless of who is right or wrong, it is important to know you could be pulled into a lawsuit for just sitting next to someone.

  48. Lucky,

    From your 3rd bullet it seems you are implying that it was called for to call police because the lady continued recording and it’s a violation of airline policy.

    Off course, the police are not there to police airline policy. If she committed a crime, fine get the police involved. But if she violated airline policy, then that’s between the airline and the passenger. Not a police matter. Only the alleged assault is a police matter.

    I don’t agree with the way Amber handled this and I also get the impression she was deliberately being provocative. But I can’;t agree with you regarding policing of airline policy

  49. Has the other lady been able to give her side of the story? Lets wait until we hear her side before passing judgement. I think the “victim” here is a tad racist. Imagine if someone referred her to as “the black lady”
    I have witnessed many cases of customers being total assholes to the point of the CSA being in tears. When the Manager comes to intervene the customer claims innocence and states its the Agent being rude!

  50. “Unfortunately time and again we see that minorities are disproportionately on the receiving end of that. ”

    I think this should really read…. “Unfortunately time and again we see that minorities disproportionately use race, religion, or sexual preference to complain via social media when race, religion and sexual preference actually have nothing to do with the situation.”

  51. Notice that SHE SAID THAT SHE WAS FAT AND BLACK ! Nobody else said that. That was her belief and it came out of her mouth. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

  52. I think @Maxine sums up so much of what is going on currently. And yes, it seems much more apparent under Trump – but could also be a product of the added stimuli of blogging journalism, fake news, antagonist agenda, and so on. We are fed so much now that the outcome will of course be indigestion. Add to it the tight confines of our lives on planes and in airports and the stress this usually involves with many people and, well, it truly comes to light. I have been a “victim” myself. If we must call it that.

    Two weeks ago I was on a flight from DCA to BTV on a regional. After landing I was first up from the single FC seat. I stood towards the galley out of the way and a woman behind me promptly announced to everyone around, “Maybe if fat ass important white man would move I could get my coat out of the closet.” It is a memory I think will be etched in me for a long time. Especially the look on the face of the flight attendant, who was of color, and whispered to me nervously after seeing my expression of shock to, “please let it go.” Of course I did. I would never respond to that. But it says a lot about the tension today. It comes from everyone. Every race. Every sex and gender and every sexual persuasion. I hope at some point we can stop blaming each other and realize we are all victims to a really sick environment these days. One that I think Maxine so wonderfully highlighted.

    As a white man of privilege I could be wrong. I may not see things the same. I get that. But I also feel that the road to understanding is not through confrontation and vitriol. It is through clear eyes and patience. Understanding that we are all in this together.

    Oh, and I am actually quite slender for the record.

  53. As an Africa-American passenger, I’ve had so many racial micro-aggression when flying, I can’t count the number anymore. And most of said experiences happen when my travel is J/F. It is so tiring.

    I arrive at the airport and queue in the first/priority line. It’s always the non-person of color working in the ticketing area who says, “Are you sure you’re in the right line? This is for priority passengers only.” When I’m on an AA regional flight and I need the yellow valet tag for my bag, the non-person of color gate agent always says, “the yellow tags are reserved for first.” 50 percent of the time I have to show a boarding pass to verify my class of service. When I’m in the AA priority lanes, I get asked all the time to step aside by other white first class passengers. Usually, I want to say I’m waiting on the wheelchairs to go on, but I usually step aside and watch the jerk have to move out the priority lane at some point himself.

    When I have only a weekender bag and board last, it’s always the non-person of color FA who says, “We only have space for first jackets,” when I ask to store mine. I then say I’m in 3-Alpha and all is good. My most memorable experience of late is when I had a white gentlemen in his last 60’s on a flight use the tray table as a divider on domestic first to avoid looking at me. He said nothing to me the entire flight. As we were landing, I was concerned I was just making a big deal outta nothing, but after I deplaned, the white woman seated behind me found me to apologize for the man’s actions.

    I write all of this to say that micro-agressions add up for a person of color. And many of the experiences I describe above don’t happen on every flight, but when they do, each slight feels like increasingly deeper cut.

    I don’t know this woman’s experience and what was said between the two of them. For her to record the interaction, later try to snap a picture and then post this interaction to Twitter means the situation really impacted her. Could this entire situation be blow out of proportion and it’s a just a sh8tty interaction between cranky flyers? Sure. But for some readers of this blog to dismiss this as another example of “a passenger playing the race card” — without any additional knowledge — is disgusting.

  54. @fld. Those aren’t “microaggressions”. They happen to white people too and white people think nothing of it. It’s not racism. And a lot of people on these blogs would be upset if they didn’t happen because they like to feel special that they were in first class. I’m sure you’ve seen lots of unknowing coach passengers stand in the elite lines. And I’d be annoyed by a person just standing in the elite lanes and not moving-no matter what color, as I wouldn’t be thinking of the wheelchair passengers.

    Most First class passengers board first, so it’s not a surprise that an FA would assume you were in coach if you boarded last.

    I will give you the divider guy. That was just weird. And maybe that was racism.

    Racism is bad. But people just enforcing the rules isn’t automatically racism. Too many times I’ve seen accusations of “microaggressions” that aren’t racism at al. It just raises racial tensions. MLK asked for a color-blind society but sometimes it seems with all the accusations of racism-too often used as a weapon, not a shield-that some pocs want a world where the rules don’t apply to them and/or they get preferential treatment.

  55. Look folks, Lucky needs sponsorship, and he knows what his party line HAD BETTER BE! He’s no fool–look who he answers to–credit card companies are a not insignificant portion of income here? American corporations collapse instantly on attack by a minority of African Americans who incessantly see racism under every rock, and they won’t tolerate even a second of due process.
    I wonder if by some infinitesimal, minute, one-in-a-million chance, she escalated and started threatening action?!

  56. Fld- So, it is disgusting for us to not agree with you about this situation, because you say we need more info, but yet you don’t need more info to claim that this is racism and that the white lady is in the wrong? Um, okay. Can you provide proof that all this happened to you, since we need to hear more to a story, according to you? You seem very racist, because you only seem to notice how whites treat you. Also, I can name at least 30 times when a black person has been rude to me. That was racism , right?

  57. @Maxine

    Thank you, you are 100% right. I mean I guess airlines can’t adjust for how narrow the regional jets are, but they almost certainly had a hand in designing them. They could have probably demanded that the airframes were wider so that people could feel like human beings sitting in them but they didn’t because of course they didn’t.

    You are also 100% right when you suggest that a broad shouldered white man probably wouldn’t have gotten nearly as much of an attack from the complaining passenger. White people call the police on black people far more often than is necessary and for situations that are totally not worthy of the police’s time. This is just another example of that.

  58. @A said by the white guy, right?

    I’ve been around enough racial comments, and myself been treated differently when in the company of my African American friends to know this: if you are white, you have no idea what racism feels like. It’s bears repeating, if you are white, you have NO idea what racism feels like. The point of that is, if you are white, you cannot intelligibly determine whether a comment or action is racist, even if you think you can. You have not walked in the shoes of a person of color, and have no idea what their experience is like. You can’t make blanket comments like “that’s not racism and stop calling everything racist”. How the heck do you know, have you EVER been treated differently for being white? Seriously doubt it.

    Because of that, I don’t think it’s appropriate to opine on whether a black person is valid in claiming a racist act, or whether someone of color has been discriminated against. I remind myself that I am not black, and have ABSOLTUELY no idea what it’s like to be in their shoes. And my suggestion to white folks here is, neither do you.

    That said, for this woman to make these posts and accusations, and record the other woman when asked not to, regardless of what transpired between them, her behavior now is completely out of control, she’s acting like a complete moron. Even if she had a valid reason to be upset, she has now negated it by her ranting and childishness.

    And finally, Lucky, seriously? You had to know the shtstorm this would cause, both in racism tension and fat shaming. Why on God’s green earth would you post an article like this? Lapse in judgment, my friend.

  59. If anybody that big was taking 25% of my seat area, I would not be happy either. It has happened to me before, even after I upgraded to a premium seat. This is the fault of the airlines making the seats too small to fit a large majority of the US population.

  60. I think it is funny how she is filming herself clearly taking up most of the “white womans” seat.. I’ve been in this awkward situation before and it’s not fun to not have room in your 600 dollar seat because the next person doesn’t fit in theirs. honestly it not about race up

  61. I think we probably need more information to be judging this, but I don’t think it was right for Amber to start videoing her “bothersome” seat mate, as it made her feel very uncomfortable. If Amber wanted to deal with this situation, she should have sought help from the Flight Attendants, and the situation would have probably deescalated quickly without involving the cops. If Amber’s seat mate was behaving the way Amber is describing then Amber has every right to be angry. However, I don’t agree with people taking to Twitter to describe their daily lives, as it is petty and immature. Trump is a perfect example.

  62. Take a look at her twitter account. She uses “black” excuse for everything. She is some sort of “speaker and expert” on black issue.

  63. Have to give on you people, like reading your comments.. some are good and some are eye-opening in a very negative way!

    Since Trump became President some Americans do get the feeling of confirmation to talk down to others or find it right to insult blacks, latinos etc..openly in public without any hesitations! ..of course this happens not only in the US.
    But it is happening in the country which suppose to be the paragon of equality, toletance between races living as a united nation..At the moment this dark suppressed prejudices, fears and disdains, which you have thought been eliminated as people have evolved, are coming back..they arrive in a more menacing way as people feel they do not need to filter it out!

    Those ideals which everyone wishes to see in a perfect American society..will have to be fought harder every day! I know you know it..the US census are showing for years now that the Latinos represent the biggest part of the population and will be continuing in the future..so Trump’s fear of losing the white supremacy is just so real!

  64. Fat- Yes
    Black – Yes
    An asshole prone to massive exaggeration – Yes
    A bonehead playing the race card – Yes

    I’ve said it before. There needs to be a cull of dumb yanks – black + white. These dumbass critters embarrass a nation

  65. @RJW actually, one of the problems is that so many things that are called “racist” are things where there is no intention of racism. None whatsoever. Just a so-called unconscious bias. “Microaggressions” as they call it. You didn’t something I didn’t like. And I am a poc. Ergo, you are racist and I am a victim of racism. And only pocs know if something is racist. Not even the purported racist person knows if it is racism or not. Because they are “white” and white people don’t know anything. Only the “victim” knows if something that happened to them was caused by racism.

    And you can’t say that you’re not racist because you’re white. So the only way for this to be fixed is for any white people to treat all pocs with kid gloves and not expect to comply with rules of common courtesy (such as ordering a drink at a starbucks in a crowded location before asking to use their bathroom or not videotaping a fellow passenger) or follow the orders of law enforcement. And is a certain word that we and only we can say and even rappers will put in their songs, but if white girls sing along to that song-well, that is racist. And don’t you dare put cornrows in your hair, white people, because instead of being part of a color-blind society or being seen as an imitation-is-the-best-form of flattery, no, it’s “cultural appropriation” and racist.


  66. Gotta love how the first adjective she uses to describe the woman wasn’t rude, obnoxious or terrible, but rather “white” . It’s a shame the “attacker” wasn’t a man, then she could have played the sexism card too! Also, I love that the victim has “Melania” on her t-shirt, is she a Trump fan too? LOL

  67. As seat width and pitch diminish and Americans ingest more Cokes and Big Macs, just a matter of time before the greedy airlines sell seats by BMI: one seat for 30. Everyone on “My 600-Pound Life” pays triple.
    Hell yes, I’m (fill-in) Black, White, Green, Polish, Methodist, Vegan and I’m (fill-in) fat, smelly, tall, short, nude, sweaty and whatchagonnado about it, huh, ’cause I’m going to “document the incident.”

    If I were fat enough to pour onto and into my neighbor’s seat, I’d be embarrassed and apologetic. Following the example of people in high places, those two adjectives are in danger of extinction.

    I was most astounded by American’s statement: “…We have an obligation to contact law enforcement if any passenger requests it (just as we would if someone requested medical assistance, for example).” Really?

    “Excuse me, flight attendant, I have been robbed. I paid $4000 for this seat in business and I want to report it to law enforcement…”

  68. Lucky – I think the issue here is not race, but that people are being squeezed into tighter and tighter seats. So if you have a significantly bigger person next to you you invariably don’t have a pleasant flight experience. I recently experienced something similar – a very much oversized guy crammed in a small seat next to me. It was not fun and I was pissed at first but then realized that he’s a human being too. I can emphasize for both ladies, but think it’s wrong of Amber pulling the race card.

  69. @ken Who cares? The blog is such a small team that it doesn’t matter. Plus, Lucky gets to decide who gets to write on his blog, not some SJW crusader snowflake.

    “Lucky, I cannot tell but do you have any minority blogger in your team? Was that ever a consideration in your recent selection? Gender balance as well?”

  70. Myles,

    Honey, people are not talking down to those groups. It’s actually the other way around. Those groups you have mentioned can do and say anything about whites and it is automatically true, with no evidence or investigation. Obama said horrible things about whites, and cops, as did his wife, but somehow you were and are okay with that. Get over Trump and stop blaming everything on him and the people who voted for him. I think you an others like you just can’t handle that people are starting to tell the truth and stick up for themselves and not kiss your butt.

  71. AA has no duty to call the damned police just whenever any passenger asks. To say it does is absurd. Ms. White skinny privilege has a phone. If she believes a crime has been committed, she can call them herself and assume the responsibility for doing so. There’s 911, or AA can give the number it called.

  72. Rjw

    First of all, “African Americans” may be pc, but it actually shows lack of education. Africa is a Continent , so that term is incorrect. You actually have to find the country your ancestors are from. I know you will say that because of slavery , people can’t, but you are wrong. Only 20 percent, or less of black alive today, have slave ancestry.

    Secondly, whites and non-blacks experience racism and microagressions every day. You just don’t come across as very worldly or educated with your comments. Also, can you please show us evidence of racism you have seen against your friends.

  73. @Maxine this is all due the era of Trump. No, flyertalk was talking about “seat theft” even around 2000. That was nearly 20 years ago.

  74. Chas goose

    White people call the cops, because certain people don’t know how to act and start getting violent and won’t leave. They call the cops on whites all the time. It just does not make the news. It’s quite obvious you are the same person making these stupid comments, under different names.

  75. @ Jesse @ Ken — I’ve actually addressed after the recent round of hiring, when folks (rightly) commented that we’d perhaps missed an opportunity by bringing on two more white men:

    “Of the hundreds of applications we received, fewer than twenty were from women, and that number only rose above seven when I asked for signal boosts from other women in the travel space. I didn’t ask anyone their ethnic orientation, but did put my thumb on the scale if there was a question as to whether or not someone from a more seemingly-diverse background should move to the next round or not.

    The unfortunate reality of the miles and points space is that it (like many others) is most accessible to those with certain privileges. The inequalities in our society are reflected in various ways, and in this case the disparities in writing skills and knowledge meant that the demonstrably better candidates were, almost without exception, male. Other than Spencer I haven’t met any of these people in person or seen photos prior to offering (or not offering) a position.

    So, we’re excited about the people we have, of course, but would have also preferred to bring more diversity to the team. I like to give chances, I’d like to include varying perspectives, and we did everything possible to ensure that people received a fair hearing and equal consideration. But I can’t review applications that aren’t submitted.”

  76. Can I ask a question? I just got of Essence in the mail. They had a pic of their staff. There wasn’t one white person. I get other magazines in the mail that people would think cater to whites. They all have diverse staffs. Why is no one protesting against Essence for their lack of diversity , like they do when there aren’t enough non-whites? There are no inequalities in our society. If anything everything is done to make women and minorities succeed. If you aren’t intelligent, can’t read, or write..it is your fault and not the fault of society.

  77. @Tiffany. Apparently you believe only white men have writing skills and knowledge. Think about it. ” We’d be glad to hire (fill in the blank). We just can’t find any (fill in the blank) who are qualified.” Really? That rationale and attitude has been used to support discriminatory practices since God knows when. Even Augusta National had to give up on that one.

  78. John,

    I feel sorry for you. You know that is not what she said, but you turn her words around to fit your false narrative. She didn’t know what the people looked like. You want companies to call people in , and if they are white, not to hire them based on race, or skin color. That actually happens a lot with companies and college and is discrimination, but if it is against whites and Asians, it seems to be okay. If you don’t like the way they operate, I would suggest you stop coming here and open your own business. Maybe, you should complain about all the companies who don’t hire whites. Wonder why you don’t do that?

  79. Outside of an airplane anyone can call the police, whether it’s justified or not. No reason that should be different on a plane, with the airline facilitating the request. However, the consequences for making an unjustified call should also be the same for the person who requests the police.

  80. John,

    When someone is right and you have no argument, say “ you have no clue” and blame “ racism. “

  81. I don’t understand why omaat covered this incident and not the other about the family suing American because a woman died on a flight from Hawaii to Dallas. The doctor suggested the pilots divert and they chose to continue to Dallas. Had they diverted to Lubbock the woman could have received excellent medical treatment a half hour sooner. It could have saved her life.

  82. I get asked if I’m in the correct line every single time I fly first class. No surprise (to some) this is coming from a 37 year old white heterosexual male American.

  83. @Tiffany, no doubt not what you meant but definitely what I heard, and the result speaks louder than your words or mine. Black folk in this country been hearing all kinds of reasons why this and that didn’t work out since 1619. And next year is 2019. When?

  84. @ john — I’m on your side with this stuff in general, and think I share your overall societal concerns. And I’d be happy to engage in a productive conversation about what we could do/could have done to attract more qualified candidates from diverse backgrounds! But your insinuation that we chose the people we did over other equally or similarly talented people is inaccurate and frankly insulting.

  85. @john- you’re obviously a smart guy with good self awareness. However “….no doubt not what you meant but definitely what I heard….” should be pretty educational as we are all discussing perception vs. reality.

  86. @Tiffany, the second sentence of your second paragraph of the original comment is also somewhat insulting. Surely there must be qualified candidates in spite of the barriers to entry for minorities and women.

  87. @John
    „Surely there must be qualified…“
    What makes you so sure? How can you think to be sure of this when you have not seen the applications as Tiffany has?
    Is Tiffany lying to you and to us all? Is that your conclusion?
    What would her motivation be? That she is a right wing racist? Maybe you should consider the obvious explanation: the explanation she gave.
    Absence of discrimination does not guarantee equal outcomes for all sub-groups. There are other explanations for varying success.

  88. look, about qualified candidates. If you need surgery, would you go to the best surgeon or would you choose based on so called diversity? Like, my primary doc is white, my dentist is black, now I need an Asian surgeon? Silly and totally unreasonable. You will go to the best one you can find (wont go into insurance and such in this example). It’s common sense.
    Same here. None of the businesses, this blog included, needs diversity just for diversity’s sake. They need the best writers with the best potential. That’s all. Because for all of us here, it’s the content of the blog we should care about, not the racial background or hair color or gender or other particulars of a given writer.
    And instead of crying for so called diversity, maybe get your act together and strive to be one of those best of the best.
    It’s crazy with this ‘diversity’. What’s next? Add so many redheads to the staff? Because doesn’t look like you have any! Tsk-tsk-tsk. And what about people over 50? And vegans? And please don’t leave out people with peanut allergies, they also need to be represented fairly!

  89. The comments on this post, including Tiffany’s, and the lack of comment from the author of the post and owner of this blog demonstrate the sad state of race relations in this country. It is unacceptable, and will be challenged further in other forums. If some find that is insulting, so be it. These issues are more important than individual sensibilities.

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