Black men sue American Airlines for racial discrimination after being 'ordered off plane over body odour complaints'

30 May 2024, 08:34 | Updated: 30 May 2024, 10:28

Three black men who were asked to leave a plane after body odour complaints are suing an airline for racial discrimination.

The three passengers were briefly ordered off an American Airlines plane in January - along with five other black men, according to the lawsuit filed on Wednesday.

The claimants said they were told to leave a plane waiting to take off in Phoenix because a flight attendant had complained about a passenger's body odour.

The men said it appeared they were targeted solely because of their race.

They did not know each other and had been sitting in different parts of the plane when the incident took place.

American Airlines offered to book them on to a different plane but when it became clear there were no other available flights to New York that evening, they were allowed to reboard, according to the lawsuit.

It took about an hour to reboard after being removed.

"If American Airlines received a complaint about a black male passenger with offensive body odour but could not verify the complaint, the solution should not have been to eject eight separate black men from the plane," said Susan Huhta, who is representing the three men.

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American Airlines said it was looking into the claims.

"We take all claims of discrimination very seriously and want our customers to have a positive experience when they choose to fly with us," the airline said in a statement.

"Our teams are currently investigating the matter, as the claims do not reflect our core values or our purpose of caring for people."

In 2017, the NAACP, an American civil rights organisation, warned black travellers about flying on American Airlines, claiming that several African American passengers had experienced discrimination by the airline.

American promised changes, and the civil rights group later lifted the advisory.