American Airlines Sued Over Alleged Removal of ‘The Only Black People On A Flight’ After Complaints Of ‘Offensive Body Odor’

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American Airlines has a lawsuit on its hands after three passengers allege that eight Black men were unjustly removed from a flight due to a complaint about a passenger with body odor. They were the only Black people on the flight from Phoenix to New York.

Filed on May 29 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the lawsuit claims that American Airlines removed eight Black men from the plane during their connecting flight to New York from Los Angeles. They were reportedly asked to exit the plane over a complaint about “offensive body odor,” according to a report by CBS News.

Alvin Jackson, Emmanuel Jean Joseph, and Xavier Veal are listed as the three plaintiffs in the suit, and they say that they were never told about the offensive odor by any of the American Airlines employees. Instead, Jean Joseph revealed that as he gathered his belongings to exit toward the jet bridge, he realized that only Black men were being removed from the flight. Additionally, none of the men were traveling together and had never met before.

“I started freaking out,” said Veal.

He took matters into his own hands and began to record the interaction, which took place in January 2024. According to the court documents, the men were all held in the jetway for roughly an hour before being moved to the gate area, where they were informed that they would be booked on a later flight to New York that same day. It was also suggested that the complaint about the body odor came from a “white male flight attendant” and that a gate agent can be seen seemingly agreeing with the fact that race played a role in their removal from the flight.

What’s more, after a later flight to New York was unavailable, the men were placed back onto the flight, something that they noted was a very uncomfortable feeling.

“Everybody [was] staring at me; me and all the other Black people on the plane were just taken off,” Jackson recalled.

“I knew that as soon as I got on that plane, a sea of white faces was going to be looking at me and blaming me for their late flight of an hour,” Jean Joseph added.

Veal says that if the complaints had been made toward a white person, the same procedure for having them exit the aircraft would not have been in place.

“We were discriminated against,” he said. “The entire situation was racist.”

Sue Huhta, a partner at Outten & Golden, is the attorney representing all three men. She said that American Airlines refused to provide her clients with further answers regarding the incident. She also noted that it was “fairly apparent that race was a part of this dynamic.”

“It’s almost inconceivable to come up with an explanation for that other than the color of their skin, particularly since they didn’t know each other and weren’t sitting near each other.”

At this time, American Airlines says that they are taking the claims seriously and are currently investigating the situation at hand.

“We take all claims of discrimination very seriously and want our customers to have a positive experience when they choose to fly with us,” said the company in a statement to CBS News. “Our teams are currently investigating the matter, as the claims do not reflect our core values or our purpose of caring for people.”

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