Woman claims American Airlines charged her ‘African American’ service fee

'We were disturbed by what we saw,' said American Airlines

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Kyetra Bryant from Charlotte, N.C. wants an explanation from American Airlines regarding a racially insensitive bank charge.

As Bryant and her boyfriend were traveling out of Charlotte Douglas Airport on Thanksgiving Day, they checked in with American Airlines, and checked-in luggage without incident. But when she reviewed her bank statement that Saturday, she found a peculiar charge: “African American, African service charge.”

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American Airlines flight 718, a Boeing 737 Max, takes of from Miami International Airport on its way to New York on December 29, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

“I said hmmm, ‘African American, African service charge.’ It was just on my cell phone because I was looking at my banking app. I’m like ‘what is this?’” she explained.

Fox 46 reported that Bryant wasted no time contacting the airlines to get to the bottom of the matter, but couldn’t get any answers from the service representative.

“She’s like I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Bryant said about the representative. “I’m like I have a screenshot here on two different phones and a computer, and it says it’s from American Charlotte, and I want to know why it’s listed this way?”

For the next two months she tried, unsuccessfully, to get answers, but only got the runaround from both the airlines and her bank.

“The bank told American directly, we don’t have anything to do with that. When you put something into your system, we charge it as the merchant charges it, and that’s it,” Bryant said. “To this day it hasn’t changed on each of our statements.”

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American Airlines issued a statement to Fox 46 after the outlet reached out to them:

“The customer alerted American to the offensively labeled baggage fee on her bank statement in mid-December. We were disturbed by what we saw and immediately launched an investigation to understand what occurred. The baggage fee was purchased at a self-service kiosk in Charlotte. Our team members are unable to change text when processing a charge and we’ve determined the issue originated with the credit card company and bank issuer. We reached out to Mastercard who confirmed that American submitted the baggage fee information correctly during the payment process and Mastercard is conducting its own investigation.”

Dissatisfied with the company’s statement, Bryant said, “There’s really no justification. We definitely felt targeted. That’s an instance of racial bias.”

Bryant plans to reach back out to both parties and hopefully get an apology in the near future.

Capitol One, the bank that services Bryant’s account, told theGrio in a statement that it has tried to contact Bryant about the transaction’s description.

“We are aware that a customer has come forward expressing concern with how a recent transaction was recorded on their banking statement. We immediately began investigating the issue and have attempted to make contact with the customer to apologize for any confusion and provide insight into the situation,” says the statement.

“Our investigation has shown that this technical issue is the result of a miscoding of a merchant’s name.  It is entirely unrelated to any specific customer information.

The bank added, “At Capital One, we created a proprietary system that offers our customers greater details on all of their transactions. We do this in part by using technology that relies on an external database of business information.  

“We are actively investigating precisely where the technology misinterpreted the merchant data and we are correcting the issue.”

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