American Airlines Sued For Kicking 8 Black Men Off Flight Over 'Body Odor'

Photo: Bruce Bennett / Staff (Getty Images)
Photo: Bruce Bennett / Staff (Getty Images)

American Airlines kicked eight Black men off a flight citing body odor issues, and now three of them are suing. The flight in question took place back in January on a flight from Phoenix to New York City, the Washington Post reports. While they were initially told they needed to return to the gate to be rebooked on a later flight, they were eventually all allowed to reboard their original flight.

According to the plaintiffs’ lawyer, they were initially “annoyed and frustrated that they were getting bumped,” until they realized that they were all Black. “It hit them like a ton of bricks,” attorney Michael Kirkpatrick told the Washington Post.

American Airlines has also released a statement saying it takes these claims “very seriously” and, “Our teams are currently investigating the matter, as the claims do not reflect our core values or our purpose of caring for people.”


The men behind the lawsuit all live in New York City and were returning home from Burbank with a layover in Phoenix. They claim they did not know each other before the flight and were not sitting together when they were kicked off the flight. They also reportedly never saw the other five men again, although it’s possible that coverage of the lawsuit will lead them to come forward and join the suit.

According to the plaintiffs, they were removed from their flight without any “legitimate rationale,” and an American employee kicked them off “one by one” without an explanation. Only later did they learn that one of the flight attendants had complained about body odor. According to the suit, it “is near impossible to imagine that American would ever treat white customers in a similar manner.”

While the men maintain they didn’t have any offensive body odor, American Airlines’ contract of carriage does allow passengers to be removed if they smell bad, as it requires passengers to “be respectful that your odor isn’t offensive (unless it’s caused by a disability or illness).”

The airline was ultimately unable to find alternative flights for the men and let them back on board after about an hour. “We’re walking through the aisle of shame, if you will,” Xavier Veal, one of the men involved told the Post. “It was horrible. It was a really traumatic experience.”

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