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United Airlines ‘accommodates’ racist passenger who doesn’t want to sit next to black woman

Teenager says flight attendant didn’t want to ‘make a scene’

Helen Coffey
Monday 18 November 2019 18:18 GMT
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United Airlines ‘accommodates’ racist passenger who doesn’t want to sit next to black woman

A young woman has claimed United Airlines “accommodated” a racist passenger after he said he didn’t want to sit next to her because she is black.

Taylor Richardson, 16, said a flight attendant agreed to move the man after he complained onboard a Denver-Jacksonville on 15 November.

She shared the experience on social media, tweeting: “So yesterday while flying from Denver to Jacksonville, I had my first encounter with a white man who didn’t want to sit next to me because I was black.

“Thank you @united for accommodating him. #flyingwhileblack”

After United responded to the tweet, asking for Ms Richardson to send them a message with more details, she replied that the flight attendant did it to avoid “making a scene”.

She said: “I would like to say upfront there wasn’t any commotion. Your airline rep was not rude she was caught off guard by his comment and to not make a scene just moved him.

“I’m only 16 so I dare not disrespect an adult even when ignorant to the fact.”

The original tweet received more than 200 comments, many of which expressed solidarity for Ms Richardson.

One user wrote: “The attendant was rattled, but moving him was absolutely wrong. It gave credibility to his harassment. She should have moved you to First Class if you were not already there. You were being harassed and United should have trained its attendants better.”

A United spokesperson told The Independent: “United takes claims of discrimination very seriously. We immediately had an online chat with our customer when we heard about this issue and will reach out again to speak with her directly for additional information. We will also be speaking with our crew to better understand what happened.”

Ms Richardson, who is part of STEAM Squad – a group of teenage girls who excel in science, technology, engineering, arts and maths – also shared sympathy for Black-Eyed Peas star Will.i.am, who accused a Qantas cabin crew member of racism this weekend.

“Sending positive thoughts and prayers to @iamwill!” she tweeted. “While he got a more aggressive encounter than I, I can only imagine how he feels.

“Not sure what’s worse being loud or being discreet. Stay lifted sir!”

Will.i.am claimed a “racist” flight attendant called the police on him after he didn’t hear an announcement to put his laptop away before take-off on a Brisbane to Sydney service.

The rapper and producer shared a photo of a police officer who had met him when he landed on Twitter, writing: “@Qantas I was making music wearing noise cancelling headphones on the plane… I’m sorry I couldn’t hear the P.A…I complied when she’s tapped me on the shoulder to put my laptop away… It’s sad that your #RacistFlightAttendant sent the police.”

A Qantas spokesman told The Independent: “There was a misunderstanding on board, which seems to have been exacerbated by Will.i.am wearing noise cancelling headphones and not being able to hear instructions from crew.

“We completely reject the suggestion this had anything to do with race. We’ll be following up with Will.i.am and wish him well for the rest of the tour.”

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