Flying while Black: Horrifying and hilarious tales of flights gone wrong

Everyone has air travel horror stories, but when you're Black, some of them can be unique and only other Black folks would understand

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

For Black folks, travel sometimes means dealing with aggressions, both micro- and macro- on airplanes. So we’ve rounded up instances when they’ve gone low while we rode high, but wind up having to laugh to keep from crying. It’s enough to make you trade in your frequent flyer miles for a bus ticket.

Sometimes Flying While Black is funny

Some white people have all the nerve, and when a white woman thought it was her right to prop her stinky feet up on the food tray next to Frederick Joseph – while he was eating – he took to social media to air out his dismay.

The woman caught an attitude when Joseph asked her to put her dogs down, then he detailed the whole scenario in a string of tweets that are equally hilarious and horrifying. Check out his Twitter thread on the incident.



Joseph tweeted later that he was done with the situation and was moving on.

Sometimes Flying while Black is frustrating

Emmit Walker, who is Black, was waiting in the priority boarding line at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Virginia when a white woman told him, “You may be in the wrong place, you need to let us through. This line is for priority boarding.”

Walker had the boarding pass to prove that he was first class, though, and showed her as much, but she couldn’t seem to believe that he was in the right place.

“You can relax ma’am I’m in the right spot, been here longer, so you can board after me,” he told her.

READ MORE: Naked man arrested for assault on plane

“He must be military or something, but we paid for our seats so he still should have to wait,” the woman insisted.

Finally, fed up, Walker replied, “Nope, too big to ever be in anybody’s military. I’m just a n**** with money.”

According to Walker, everyone that was in line clapped for his response.

Sometimes Flying While Black is heartbreaking

A Black flight attendant got racial slurs hurled at her when a man boarded a flight and caused a racist ruckus that got him escorted off the airplane before takeoff.

The Binter Canarias flight to La Palmas (Spain) began at North Tenerife Airport. The unidentified man was seen by eye-witnesses getting on the flight and subsequently hurling “racist abuses” at a Black female flight attendant.

READ MORE: Man arrested for shouting racist, sexist epithets at flight attendant

According to SF Gatethe irate and belligerent man reportedly told the flight attendant, “Get out of here. I don’t want Blacks around me.” Refusing to accept the man’s racist tirade and treatment of the flight attendant, the captain of the flight reportedly confronted the passenger about his comments and ordered him to leave the airplane.

The man reportedly refused to leave the aircraft and so the captain called for security guards to have him removed. The man then “briefly protested,” but can later be seen exiting the plane in a video taken by another passenger.

Sometimes Flying While Being a Black Celeb Offers No Exemption

Actress Anika Noni Rose says she was assaulted on an airplane last year by her seatmate and she is struggling to get justice from the FBI.

During an interview on SiriusXM’s Make It Plan With Mark Thompson, The Quad actress detailed her horrifying ordeal.

“I have never spoken of this, but I will say this out loud now: I was assaulted on a plane last year. And I haven’t been able to get this person’s name; they won’t give me the name of the person.”

READ MORE: There’s a flight leaving for Wakanda at Atlanta’s airport

Anika Noni Rose said she did tell authorities and a handful of her friends, but this was her first time talking about the assault publicly. She was asleep when the her seatmate’s assault awakened her. She notified a flight attendant who offered to turn the plane around and have the unruly passenger removed. Rose initially declined the offer, but then changed her mind once the assailant’s behavior continued to raise eyebrows.

“I was like, ‘I don’t know what to do with myself. Yes, please turn the plane around.’ I was shaking. I was so upset and so hurt and angry. Like, angry. I wanted to punch that man, and I knew that that would take away from the story that I had to tell. I had to hold in everything that I was feeling to be able to tell this story and be heard and taken seriously from the place I was in. It’s been…interesting.”

The man was eventually removed from the plane, but Rose’s efforts to obtain the identity of her assailant have so far been in vain.

“There’s a Freedom of Information act. You’re supposed to be able to get people’s names. I made a report right then with the FBI and they dropped it…I can honestly say that I have not done much with it. I made my report. I followed up with the police, like I was told to do. The police did nothing.”

Sometimes Flying While Black is Insulting

A woman is suing Delta Airlines after she claimed that a drunken passenger groped her on a flight but the air steward would not do anything about it because the man was a “platinum member.”

Ayanna Hart was flying with her teenage daughter when the man, who she described as drunk, groped her three times and threw a pillow at her. When another passenger complained, the air steward reportedly replied, “Don’t worry about him, he’s platinum [medallion] status – he flies with us all the time.”

Hart said that when she left the aircraft, the attendant apologized, saying he was sorry the man was “flirting” with her.

“I was so angry and so disgusted by the time I got off the plane,” Hart told “Before I could say anything [to him], the attendant turned and said to me, ‘I’m so sorry [the alleged assailant] was flirting with you.”

READ MORE: Medic dragged half-naked dead body through crowded American Airlines flight

“I said, oh that’s what you call this? I was so mad – I just needed to get off the plane,” she added.

Hart said that she frequently flies with Delta but does not have medallion status with the program.

“I didn’t know that if you have platinum status, you’re allowed to sexually assault people on a plane. I didn’t know that was one of the perks you get,” she said.

She added, “It’s hard for me to say if I will fly Delta again. It doesn’t give me confidence in them at all but I don’t know if any airline is any better. I just don’t know.”

Since she has failed to get an apology from Delta over the incident, Hart is now set to sue them over the incident.