Six passengers are suing American Airlines after they were removed from a flight at LAX over what they claim was racial discrimination.
Five passengers said they spoke up when staff seemingly singled out Elgin Banks, a black man, for unequal treatment after they boarded their May 31 flight from Los Angeles to Phoenix. Passengers were told they were free to swap seats prior to takeoff, they said. But a member of the aircraft staff stopped only Banks, telling him to sit back down.
A statement from American says that Banks had asked to move into first class, and that he was not eligible for an upgrade. Banks denies asking for a first class seat in the lawsuit.
American Airlines has had a history of race related issues. In 2017, the NAACP issued a travel advisory to Black airline passengers, saying that “booking and boarding flights on American Airlines could subject them to disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions.”
The airline responded by saying it would take steps to address those concerns, including having all employees take “annual implicit bias training.”