A passenger on board an American Airlines flight to Washington D.C. says a flight attendant called the cops on her for “flying while fat and Black”, according to Vice.
Amber Phillips, 28, writer and co-host of the of Black Joy Mixtape says that during a 30-minute flight an attendant called the cops on her because a white woman sitting next to her felt uncomfortable.
What started as a verbal argument turned on a flight from North Carolina to Washington D.C. turned into Phillips being questioned by cops on the tarmac after the flight lands. Phillips says that there was an immediate sense of tension between her and the woman in the two chair row.
“I thought, ‘I really hope this woman isn’t mean to me… because I’m fat and black,” explained Phillips. “Because of the intersections of my identity, a black woman who takes up space, this is what my life could look like just because I dare to exist.”
Soon after getting onto the flight, they began arguing because the white woman did not want to be in contact with her.
“She kept being very aggressive and finally goes, ‘Can you move over?’” explained Phillips. She felt embarrassed by the whole situation because she was unable to move anywhere.
“So the plane takes off and I’m so sad,” Phillips said. “I have my hands folded in my lap. I just kept thinking, this is how fat people are treated on planes. Period.”
Upon landing, Phillips snapped a picture of the seats for documentation of the seat size. Taking the picture made the woman sharing the row with her uncomfortable and cause her to complain to the flight attendant about being harassed by Phillips.
Having already got off the plane and onto a shuttle bus, the flight attendant asked her to get off. “I asked why, and she said, ‘I’m calling security, I’m calling the cops and this bus isn’t moving,’” explained Phillips.
When she got off, she spoke with an officer who had previously spoken with the woman sitting next to her. The officer asked for her ID and explained to her that he was looking at the incident as an assault. He never asked for a statement from her according to Phillips.
“So I stepped back and made sure my hands are visible,” explained Phillips. After confirming that she wasn’t going to be arrested she left the tarmac and went home.
In a statement sent to Vice, American Airlines stated, “Upon landing in DCA shortly after 8 p.m. ET, one of the passengers requested to be escorted off the aircraft due to the altercation continuing.” It continues, “The Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority Police Department was called to assist and removed both passengers. We take claims of discrimination very seriously and are continuing to investigate the details of this situation. We have reached out directly to the customers for more information.”
The Washington Police Department explained that both women cooperated with officers on the scene and that they didn’t find a threat and no arrest were made.
Even with that statement, Phillips who regularly uses American Airlines says she will no longer be flying with them.
“Everyone just participated in policing me,” Phillips said. “The CEO… needs to make sure this isn’t happening. These are decisions made by people. (American Airlines) aided in all of this. I want my money back, my flyer miles back, I’m so tired.”
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(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)