Rane Baldwin (Photo Source: Facebook/ Rane Baldwin)

Rane Baldwin (Photo source: Facebook/ Rane Baldwin)

Airline travel turned into a racist encounter with an uncaring flight crew for one Black woman. Rane Baldwin is an AAdvantage Platinum Select/World Elite cardholder and was traveling with her White friend Janet Novack from Kentucky to Charlotte. Because of her membership status, Baldwin upgraded her tickets to first class for the flight.

However, when she attempted to board the plane into first class, she was assigned a seat in the rear of the plane, while Novack, who holds no special membership, was allowed to go to first class. Baldwin was told her seat had been reassigned because there weren’t enough first class seats available. Baldwin claims when she asked the flight crew questions, she was ignored while her White friend was treated with courtesy.

She posted to Twitter:

Novack went on to tweet, “The whole reason that I was flying first class was because I was associated with her and her reservation. They were ignoring the cardholder.”

Since the flight, which occurred on May 2, 2017, there has been an outrage over the situation and the story has been shared on social media. Baldwin stated to one media outlet, “It was baffling and hurtful that the crew seemed completely aware of what they were doing and just didn’t care. People didn’t seem to trust me and made giant, incorrect assumptions about the relationship between my friend and me. I’m the one who bought the tickets; she was traveling with me – not the other way around. When my ticket was changed and Janet’s was not, I felt like I was being sent to the back of the bus. I just kept wondering if I was in some sort of time warp and asking myself, ‘Is this what it felt like to be black 60 years ago?’ ”

American Airlines responded to the public relations issue with the following:

“We have reviewed the allegations, and no discrimination occurred. After a flight was canceled, an agent inadvertently provided two first class seats to Ms. Baldwin and Ms. Novack. The passengers were not ticketed for the first class cabin, and a formal upgrade was not processed. (i.e. they were never charged/miles were not deducted.) The next day, the agent working the flight realized the error, since we were short one seat in the first class cabin. Instead of removing both passengers from first class, we permitted the passenger who was “upgraded” in error first, to remain in the first class cabin as a gesture of goodwill. Ms. Novack was the passenger who was upgraded in error first. We have apologized to both passengers for the confusion, and explained how the issue occurred — which was an error on our part.”

However, Baldwin disagrees and posted to Facebook, “Lies. Literal lies. American Airlines has failed to address my concerns. A week ago, Customer Relations left me a voicemail saying they received my complaint and had started an investigation. I haven’t heard back from them since. American Airlines has continued to prioritize communicating with Janet — -who has heard from American multiple times — and commenting to select media outlets over making efforts to resolve things with me. It’s very clear that American Airlines is concerned with the optics of appearing discriminatory, but I’m not convinced that they see a problem with discrimination in and of itself.”

Mo Barnes

"Mo Betta" Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician.

  • Oak510finest

    What a surprise. White people being racist? Say it ain’t so.

  • Nu Wave Ron T

    OMG – There is so much to comment on in this!
    As for American Airlines – Shut up and stop making excuses! When they were told who was the card holder, that whole “first one upgraded” ish should have come out right then! Busted. Every Black person knows when they are being discriminated against. It is the constant micro-aggressions that occur on a daily basis that continue to stack up on a person until they one day let loose. I hope ol’ girl continues to let every one know what happened. The people who should lose their jobs are the flight attendants who implemented that ish!

    As for ol’ girl, you say you know “what it felt like to be black 60 years ago?” Girl, stop tripping’! You are Black today. Try hanging out in the Hamptons or wear some flip-flops (like half of the white girls in Dallas) when you stroll through Neiman Marcus. You’ll see just how Black you are… today!

    No sense in tripping’ on it. We just have to deal with each micro-agresssion as they happen, then move on. I just had some ish happen to me the other day. While celebrating a friend’s wedding anniversary at a restaurant, I wanted to order a bottle of Dom P. The waiter all but ignored our table. Yeah, we know it was a Black thing. When we got somebody else, we made it a point to over-tip, and called the first waiter along with their manager over to explain why we didn’t want any of our gratuity to go to the first dude. Peace.

  • RoadWaryur

    This kind of thing happens to everyone from time to time, but if you’re black it must be racist. American Airlines is over-the-top fair and inclusive firm, and yes they clearly effed up.

    Calm down and find another card game to play because tossing out the race card here is not the right play.

    • BobFromDistrict9

      The very fact that you call it the race card is evidence you are, deep down inside, a bigot.

      No, this sort of thing does not happen to every one from time to time. This was pure and simple racism, and needs to be called out as such.

      • Not Sure

        There is absolutely no proof of that beyond her saying so. What’s actual racism is implying everything is racist the second someone who ironically isn’t of color does something that someone black disagrees with.

        • Oak510finest

          @Not Sure There was proof that it was racist. She was treated unfairly and differently, than her white friend. Even though she was the AAdvantage Platinum Select/World Elite cardholder.

          Furthermore how can you debate or disagree with her experience, when you were not there?

          How is it possible, for whites to determine what was or wasn’t racist? Especially, when it is something you haven’t, nor will ever experience. It’s like a man telling a woman, that child birth is easy. Which dismisses her experiences. While somehow replacing her experience with your “factual opinion”.

          Whites being so sensitive and emotional at someone classifying an experience as racist. Proves in fact, that it was racist. If it wasn’t racist, then you wouldn’t spend so much time and energy trying to prove it wasn’t!

      • SrAgri

        “This was pure and simple racism, and needs to be called out as such.”

        In your eyes, every injustice black people face is “pure and simple racism”. Racism could have played a role in this fiasco, but I think pure and simple incompetence likely played a bigger role.

    • Guest

      Key words “from time to time”, as Nu Wave Ron T stated these type of micro aggressions happen to the average black person constantly. Do you really believe most blacks that face this type of treatment want to believe they are being treated this way because the color of their skin? No, it is exhausting but it is the reality. It hard to view these things as an aberration when you regularly face this. And of course there are those that do play the “victim” and “race card” but more likely than not these claims are legitimate.