American Airlines has apologized for erroneously accusing a pair of NBA G League players of stealing blankets, and kicking them off a flight. It was a situation that could have been painlessly resolved in at least two other ways had a single rational, dignified person been involved.
This being the airline industry, that was not the case.
An as-yet unidentified American Airlines flight attendant thought Marquis Teague and Trahson Burrell, who play for the Memphis Grizzlies affiliate, the Memphis Hustle, had “stolen” blankets from first class (more on this later).
From the Associated Press:
Two first-class passengers gave the players their blankets as they headed to their seats in coach. But a flight attendant, who is also black, accused them of theft and the players were asked to leave the plane following an argument.
An airline manager apologized to the players and they later flew first class to Sioux Falls, Freed said.
“We take pride in bringing people together, and we know that on this flight we let some of our customers down,” Freed said. “Our team at American, along with Envoy Air, is reviewing what happened, and will be reaching out to them.”
Darnell Lazare, an assistant coach for the Hustle, ripped the airline on Twitter.
The flight attendant had a few options, here. One would be to just chill the hell out and not worry about whether these two cheap blankets were in first class or not. That would have been my suggestion. Even if we accept the premise that poors must not be granted blankets, not on American Airlines, pal, we are all human beings who are (theoretically) equipped to think critically. A person employing that basic human skill could see there was literally no problem here. There was no need for a hero to ride in and rescue these textiles from the clutches of the less fortunate.
But if critical thinking and basic dignity were not available, there was another option. The flight attendant could have asked these two men where they got the blankets, listened to their explanation, which was that they were given to them by first-class passengers, and then — can you guess where I’m headed with this? — asked the first-class passengers if that was true.
The third option was to openly disrespect and publicly humiliate a couple of paying customers, which is just what happened.
The American Airlines Way.
So that’s the obvious customer service issue, here.
But there is a logical issue, too. Because unless Teague and Burrell de-boarded the plane with the blankets in hand — which they didn’t, having been kicked off and all — I can’t see how they could be considered to have “stolen” these blankets by any reasonable definition. There were blankets on the airplane, provided for the use of passengers while in flight. Nobody other than a full-blown kleptomaniac is trying to steal those glorified napkins airlines try to pass off as “blankets,” anyway.
It’s enough to make you want to find another airline to use. Say, I dunno, United.