Are airlines purposefully ruining flying for the rest of us?
Rane Baldwin, a Black woman, was in route to North Carolina from Kentucky with a white friend and two upgraded first class seats that she had purchased when a boarding agent reassigned her a ticket for coach, according to The Independent.
"I’m the one who bought the tickets; she was traveling with me — not the other way around," Baldwin told the Root in an interview.
Baldwin was redirected to the very last row of the plane while her friend, Janet Novack, was given a seat in first class. After pressing the airline for answers, the two friends were told that a plane change meant that there wasn't enough space for Baldwin in first class.
Baldwin explained that by the time the plane was fully boarded, "there were multiple empty rows at the front of the main cabin. I ignored my seat assignment, sat at the front, and my friend left first class and came back to join me."
It wasn't until a flight attendant offered Novak another seat in first class for her to use that Baldwin realized the true reason behind her reassignment might have been race related.
"This flight was the most blatantly racist thing that’s ever happened to me," Baldwin told The Root. “When my ticket was changed and Janet’s was not, I felt like I was being sent to the back of the bus. I just kept wondering if I was in some sort of time warp and asking myself, ‘Is this what it felt like to be Black 60 years ago?'”
Novack later aired out her grievances with American on Twitter and called the airline “prejudiced and ignorant.”
“There’s absolutely no reason why Rane, an AAdvantage Platinum Select/World Elite cardholder, should have been treated as she was," Novack said. "There is absolutely no excuse for the fact that even after I pointed out the discrimination, all of my questions and concerns have been answered as Rane’s haven’t.”
American Airlines has since reached out to Baldwin to apologize for the inconvenience and explained that the who ordeal occurred because of "agent error."