Thursday, April 18, 2013

Airline Racism

            Today I was watching the Today show and an airport mishap caught my eye. Last August, Miles and MacCraig Warren were flying home from a family member’s funeral on an U.S Airways airline flight. However, before the brothers were allowed to board the plane with their first class tickets, an airline employee forced the brothers to change from jeans and tee shirts to slacks and button downs. The employee also said if they refused to change, they would have to sit in the back of the plane because that “is the policy if you want to ride first class.” Interestingly enough, after changing, Miles and MacCraig went to their seats to find a white and Filipino passenger dressed in jeans and hoodies, the exact same clothes they were asked to change from. 
            Because there were other passengers of different races sitting in first class with jeans on, I have huge problem with this situation. It makes no logical sense to me why certain passengers, who specifically were African American, were forced to change, yet white and Pilipino passengers were not. This directly relates to Miles and MacCraig’s Civil Rights because it is obvious that race played a role in the reasoning as to why they were forced to change. I also agree with what their lawyer said. “If this is a policy, it has to be practiced at all times and not just selectively implemented when they want it to be implemented.” It would be a different story if every first class passenger was forced to wear nice clothing, but instead it was only implemented for African Americans on this specific flight, which is no doubt a racial injustice. While the brothers were not treated poorly, it still had to be very humiliating for them to be forced to change before boarding the flight. It is also a great example of how discrimination still very much exists today. Like we have talked about in class, there really is no master narrative for the Civil Rights movement in the American society because segregation and discrimination is still a daily occurrence. Interestingly enough, this certain event happened in Denver, Colorado, a city that is miles and miles away from the South. Therefore, I think it is important to remember that racism and civil rights violations are a prevalent part of the United States as a whole, and not just in the Deep South.

What do you think about this situation? Do you think it was a violation of their Civil Rights? Were you surprised that this happened in Denver rather than in the South?

Makenzie Martin


  1. I agree with you; this is absolutely ridiculous. While it is a violation of their civil rights, it is also a violation of their human rights. I do think it is appropriate for people to dress nicely when riding on airplanes, regardless of the cabin in which they are seated; however, this is not mandatory, simply a personal opinion. Is it right to force people to change into nicer clothing simply to sit in first class. There is no reason the Warren brothers should have had to change their clothes, regardless of how others were dressed. The fact that the employee forced them to change their clothes shows a significant lack of disrespect and strong racism against the two men. A confusing part of this incident is the policies that apply to reduced fare and regular fare passengers. Does the fact that they flew with "buddy passes," therefore a reduced rate, imply the need to dress more nicely to compensate for the lack of money the airline received?

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  3. Lees, that actually is a airline policy. I fly with "buddy passes" and the airline emails me before every flight reminding me to review their wardrobe guidelines. However, I have shown up to a flight last minute, in jeans a t-shirt, and I have never been asked to change my clothing. Even though it is company policy, in this situation the attendants were obviously abusing their power for their own personal vendettas. Only asking certain passengers to change their clothes, and only enforcing the policy in certain situations is obviously not normal or fair to the passengers its affects.
    I don't think the location of this necessarily has any real consequence to the story. Were the flight attendants specifically from Colorado? If so, then the location might have some bearing to the story. I would be curious to see how the airline will respond. Will they change their statement if they receive a lot of negative attention?


  4. This whole situation seems really strange. I am actually so amazed by it. First off the flight attendance should have known better that by doing something like this there would be repercussions. I can see how the White person got away with it but the Filipino passenger I don’t understand. I say this because Whites have discriminated Filipinos in America not as much as African Americans but all the same we have put stereotypes on them. Also the fact that it happened in Colorado adds to my amazement as it is not in the relative area as the southern states but on that same note its not too North. If this had taken place in New England it would have been a much different case as New England is very open when it comes to race relations.

    I feel that there had to been something else at play for this situation to occur. Would you happen to know which Airline this was?

  5. The issue I take complaint with is the forceful nature, and threat, that was directed at the brothers. As Alexandra said if it is company policy to have a certain dress code when using buddy passes it should be obliged with, but it appears that the brothers did so and should have not been directly met with a threat. The implication that dress implies class is a ridiculous notion and I would argue has to deal with the institutionalized racism that airlines have long had.