SAN JOSE, Calif. - NAACP officials are urging African Americans to stop flying on American Airlines until further notice. The civil rights group issued the advisory Wednesday citing unsafe travel conditions.
The airline is accused of having a corporate culture of racial insensitivity and possible racial bias.
"If for any reason they're not treating you with the respect and dignity that each American citizen is entitled to, (you) should speak out and say something," says Rev. Jethroe Moore II, San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP president.
Local NAACP leaders say the travel warning was issued after a series of disturbing incidents recently reported to the national organization. This includes an African-American man who was allegedly forced to give up his seat after he responded to discriminatory comments from two unruly white passengers.
RELATED: NAACP issues travel advisory for American Airlines passengers
"We do not and will not tolerate discrimination of any kind," said American Airlines CEO Doug Parker in a statement to employees. "We have reached out to the NAACP and are eager to meet with them to listen to their issues and concerns."
For now, it's unclear when the two sides will meet. Industry experts say it's unlikely American will take much of a financial hit, but the company needs to take immediate action to retain the trust of its customers.
"If you're going to travel, you're not going to have many choices, so you have to go with whatever's the most convenient for you," said Gretchen Lester, a professor in the School of Management at San Jose State University. "Sometimes that outweighs your interest in boycotting a certain organization."
Click here for the NAACP's statement on the travel advisory.
Airlines across the country have been on notice as of late. On a United flight last spring, an Asian American man was dragged down the aisle after refusing to deplane. A similar incident, involving a pregnant Muslim American woman on Southwest, made headlines in September.
"Change has to happen, it has to start somewhere," says Christina Tunstall, San Jose resident. "If we just keep funding them, keeping them our money to them, they're just going to keep treating us any type of way."
These cases of alleged passenger abuse have been on the minds of some people as they book their travel, but not everyone is casting blame solely on the airlines.
"I don't think it's the airline as a whole," says Britanie Butts, San Jose resident. "I believe there's bad apples that fall from the tree."
Click here to read a memo from the American Airlines CEO to employees on the NAACP travel advisory.
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