CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - An American Airlines’ customer tells WBTV she was kicked off a flight from Charlotte without warning. The Black woman says another customer called her a racial slur but that the company decided to remove her from the flight and not him.
Tarajiah Reed was returning from a vacation with her fiancé when she says a connecting flight in Charlotte escalated into a nightmare.
She says before boarding the flight she had her mask around her chin and was waiting for a new one when another passenger confronted her.
“He just began like screaming ‘scoot back’, ‘get six feet back’, ‘you’re contagious’ ‘you’re breathing down my neck’ yelling really, really loud,” Reed said.
It was after she boarded the flight that she says the man called her a racial slur.
“That’s when he preceded to say I don’t care n***** just get back,” Reed said.
Reed says American Airlines employees told her she was in compliance with their rules on masks and that she put it fully on before she boarded the plane.
She says she was trying to get her fiancé‘s attention in another part of the plane and soon after a flight attendant said he wanted to talk to her off the plane but said she wasn’t in trouble.
“Within one to two minutes of me getting off the plane he was like unfortunately mam you’re put off the plane,” Reed said.
“I think that she was an easy mark for the airline,” attorney Faith Fox said.
Faith Fox is managing partner at The Cochran Firm in Charlotte and has been retained by Reed although no lawsuit has been filed yet.
She says they have major questions about the protocol for kicking Reed off the flight especially since her fiancé didn’t know until the flight was about to land in Chicago.
“My heart dropped, being in the air for three hours thinking that your significant other was with you,” Daniel Marshall, Reed’s fiancé said.
Tickets Reed provided to WBTV show American booked Reed on a later flight, which Reed’s attorney says is an indication she did nothing wrong.
“She was following the code of the airline so it’s really confusing to me, other than the color of her skin, why she would have been removed from that flight,” Fox said.
WBTV reached out to American Airlines. A spokesperson emailed saying that “a flight attendant observed the customer expressing frustration and approached her to learn more about what happened. Unfortunately, the customer refused to interact with the flight attendant.”
Reed denies she ever declined to talk to a flight attendant. She worries this is part of a pattern with the airline.
In 2017 the NAACP issued a travel advisory warning about American Airlines after Black passengers reported being treated unfairly by the airline. That warning was lifted in 2018. Just recently CNN reported another Black passenger was removed from an American flight and is now suing.
“But for it like to actually happen to you is a whole different feeling,” Reed said.
“I was the victim and I was put off the plane.”
In their email to WBTV American wrote “Discrimination of any kind has no place at American Airlines, which is why we are taking a full look into this incident to understand what transpired.”
Reed and her attorney are still not sure if they are going to file a lawsuit yet.