Musician David Ryan Harris was flying from Atlanta, Georgia, to Los Angeles, California, on 15 September when a flight attendant on board allegedly became suspicious because one of his mixed race children didn’t interact with her.
The family was met by police officers and an airline employee at the airport after touching down, according to Mr Harris. While they quickly established that he was in fact the two boys’ father, he said he was left angry at the “harrowing” experience.
Mr Harris said: “it seems to me you should have a bit more to go on” before making an assumption of trafficking, claiming the flight attendant’s mistake was based on a “30 second interaction”.
According to Mr Harris, the airline has since failed to apologise for the mistake. After he called customer service, he was told to fill in an online complaint form instead, but claims he has yet to receive a response.
The American singer-songwriter and guitarist uploaded several impassioned videos about the incident onto his Instagram, which has 79,000 followers.
He asserted that AA had been his “airline of choice since 2004” and questioned whether the same treatment and lack of aftercare would have applied had he not been Black.
“If this had been a white dad/mom with two little black kids, they would probably [have] been offered an upgrade, not an interrogation,” he claimed in his Instagram caption, later adding, “maybe it isn’t a race thing, but when you don’t respond at all, I’m left to make sense of the altercation on my own.
“No one said ‘sorry sir, there’s been an uptick in human trafficking and our policy is …….’. Nothing. American Airlines, I’ve spent more money with your airline than any other. I’m just shy of a million miles. Poor form.”
Mr Harris, who has toured with Pearl Jam and performed with John Mayer and Dave Matthews, has five sons and a daughter.
He said he wants an apology from AA because his son felt like he had done something wrong, and Mr Harris wanted to show him that it was the airline that was in error.
An American Airlines spokesperson told The Independent: “At American, the safety and security of our customers and team members are our top priorities. We strive to create a positive, welcoming environment for everyone who travels with us and apologize for any misunderstanding that may have occurred. A member of our team is reaching out to the customer to learn more about their experience and address their concerns.”
It follows the news that a white woman is suing Southwest Airlines after she claims she and her 10-year-old daughter, who she describes as mixed-race Black, were victims of racial profiling.
An airline employee reportedly saw the two together and became suspicious that the child was being trafficked. The employee then called the police.
Mary MacCarthy filed a suit on 3 August in Colorado, according to Newsweek.