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American Airlines Passenger Alleges Discrimination in Restroom Use: NPR

Pamela Hill-Veal says that while she and her family were traveling first class on Feb. 10 from Chicago to Phoenix, an American Airlines flight attendant stopped her as she returned to her seat and charged her for slamming the bathroom door.

Pamela Hill-Veau


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Pamela Hill-Veal


Pamela Hill-Veal says that while she and her family were traveling first class on Feb. 10 from Chicago to Phoenix, an American Airlines flight attendant stopped her as she returned to her seat and charged her for slamming the bathroom door.

Pamela Hill-Veal

Chicago woman accuses American Airlines of racial discrimination after one of its flight attendants allegedly confronted her after drinking the first class toilet on the plane.

In a complaint sent to American Airlines and obtained by NPR, Pamela Hill-Veal, who is black, said that while she and her family were flying first class on Feb. 10 from Chicago to Phoenix, one of the agents board stopped her. she returned to her place and accused Hill-Veal of slamming the bathroom door.

Following the comments of the flight attendant (whose name and race have not been identified) in the complaint), Hill-Veal said she did not respond as she returned to her seat.

“The flight attendant stopped me as I was returning to my seat and told me that I had ‘slammed the bathroom door and not to do it again since the passengers were sleeping on the plane’.” Hill-Veal said in an interview with NPR. She said she never slammed the door.

A little later in the robbery, Hill-Veal, a retired circuit judge in Illinois — said in the complaint that she used the same restroom in first class because the same flight attendant stopped her again.

In a statement to NPR, American Airlines said the company has been in contact with Hill-Veal to learn more about her experience. “We strive to ensure that every customer has a positive travel experience and we take all allegations of discrimination very seriously,” the airline said.

Hill-Veal told NPR that she vividly remembers the moment the flight attendant began berating her.

“He started scolding me by pointing his finger in my face and saying, ‘I told you not to slam the door… so from now on you have to use the toilet in the back of the house. ‘airplane’ as he pointed towards the toilets on the coach,” she said.

Hill-Veal says that while she hasn’t seen any first-class passengers complaining about the bathroom door, more attention was drawn to her after her hostile interaction with the flight attendant.

She said she believed the incident was racially motivated, noting that other passengers, who were white, were using the same first-class restrooms and were not asked to use the ones at the back of the plane.

The flight attendant “pointed at me and kept saying, ‘I told you to stop slamming the door…'” she said.

Hill-Veal says that about 30 minutes before landing, she went to the bathroom a third time. Once she left, the same flight attendant followed her to her seat and began physically touching her and explaining to her that she would be arrested when the plane landed.

In the complaint, the former judge said the flight attendant told him she would be arrested because he “didn’t like the way (she) spoke to him” and accused Hill-Veal of hitting him.

“It was a complete fabrication because I told him I never hit him,” she added.

Hill-Veal says that since Following the incident, she was unable to sleep properly due to the trauma she suffered and the incident left her humiliated.

“I’m still uneasy about flying because I don’t know what they’re going to say about what I did… to try to cover up what they did during this particular time,” Hill-Veal said.

Other Discrimination Claims Against American Airlines

American Airlines is no stranger to accusations of discrimination. In 2023, the company was targeted after two separate incidents – one involving track star Sha’Carri Richardson and another with musician David Ryan Harris – made headlines.

Richardson was forced off her U.S. flight following an argument with a flight attendant who said the athlete was harassing her and trying to intimidate her, Axios reported.

In a statement similar to the one given to NPR regarding the allegations made by Hill-Veal, the airline told Axios that it is investigating all allegations of discrimination, adding: “American Airlines strives to provide a positive experience and welcoming to all who travel with us. and we take allegations of discrimination very seriously.

In September, Harris, who was traveling with his two biracial children, was stopped and questioned at Los Angeles International Airport after an American Airlines flight attendant suspected him of child trafficking.

Harris later released a statement that he said was given to him by American: “We and our flight attendant realized that our policies regarding suspected human trafficking were not being followed, and through coaching and to the advice…our flight attendant realizes that their interactions and observations were not respected.

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