American Airlines apologises for theft accusations

December 28, 2017
Marquis Teague

 

DALLAS, Texas (AP):

American Airlines has apologised to two players on the Memphis Grizzlies' minor league affiliate who were kicked off a plane in Dallas after a flight attendant wrongfully accused them of stealing blankets, which an assistant coach suggested happened because they are black.

Airline spokesman Joshua Freed said Tuesday that Memphis Hustle guard Marquis Teague and forward Trahson Burrell boarded the Sunday flight from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The flight was operated by Envoy Air.

Two first-class passengers gave the players their blankets as they headed to their seats in coach. But a flight attendant, who is also black, accused them of theft and the players were asked to leave the plane following an argument.

 

FIRST COMMENT

 

An airline manager apologised to the players and they later flew first class to Sioux Falls, Freed said.

"We take pride in bringing people together, and we know that on this flight we let some of our customers down," Freed said. "Our team at American, along with Envoy Air, is reviewing what happened, and will be reaching out to them."

Hustle assistant coach Darnell Lazare said in a tweet that the flight attendant saw two "young black athletes" with blankets from first class and that his first comment was "did you steal them?"

"How about you teach people to get the facts first before jumping to conclusions," Lazare tweeted Sunday.

Freed declined to say whether race was a factor, explaining that airline officials are still reviewing the matter.

Sunday's incident comes after American CEO Doug Parker told employees last month that American Airlines will implement so-called implicit-bias training.

The NAACP issued a "travel advisory" in October warning African-Americans they could face discrimination when flying on American.

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