American Airlines accused of racism after 'disturbing incidents'

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A top African-American rights group has warned black flyers to exercise caution when flying American Airlines after a string of "disturbing incidents".

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) issued a "national travel advisory".

The organisation warned the airline "could subject [travellers to] disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions".

The airline insisted it does "not tolerate discrimination of any kind".

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The NAACP "national travel advisory" was issued as the advocacy group cited a series of incidents suggesting a "corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias" at the airline.

It warned black travellers that American Airlines could subject them to "disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions".

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American Airlines replied in a statement: "We are disappointed to hear about this travel advisory as our team members - a diverse community of gate agents, pilots, and flight attendants - are proud to serve customers of all backgrounds."

In the advisory, the NAACP listed four incidents in which black passengers said they were discriminated against by AA employees.

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One incident on a Washington DC to Raleigh, North Carolina, flight involved a NAACP state chapter president, who sued the airline.

He said he had been required by flight attendants to give up his seat after he responded to "disrespectful and discriminatory comments directed toward him by two unruly white passengers".

In another incident, a black woman was moved to the coach section at the ticket counter despite having booked first-class tickets for herself and a travelling companion.

The woman's travelling companion, who was white, remained assigned to a first-class seat, according to NAACP.

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Another incident involved a black woman who was ordered removed from a New York to Miami flight after a pilot overheard her complain to a gate agent about a change to her seat assignment without her consent, said NAACP.

American Airlines, which has 120,000 employees, has invited NAACP representatives to meet at the company headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, for "a meaningful dialogue".

The organisation, which has historically issued travel advisories "when conditions on the ground pose a substantial risk of harm to black Americans", said the allegations they cite may represent "only the tip of the iceberg".

The NAACP, which was founded in 1909, bills itself as the nation's oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organisation.

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