McCraig Warren and Miles Warren are suing US Airways for asking them to change out of their hoodies, jeans and baseball caps into slacks and a button-up shirt before boarding a first-class fight.
In a discrimination lawsuit filed Wednesday, the Warrens claim that an employee informed them of the dress-code when they tried to claim first-class tickets at the counter. Sharing their fears with fellow passenger Michael Heffernan that they might miss their flight, they eventually boarded the plane to discover Heffernan and a friend sitting in first class wearing the same casual attire they had been wearing before being asked to change.
A ticket counter employee repeatedly told the Warrens, who are both black, that their jeans, hooded sweatshirts and baseball caps violated an alleged first-class dress code. As the complaint states:
Doe employee informed plaintiffs that it was US Airways policy that everyone in first class is required to wear slacks, button up shirts and no baseball caps. Doe employee demanded plaintiffs to change from jeans into slacks, a button-up shirt and told plaintiffs to remove their baseball caps.
The Warrens reportedly headed to the restroom where Miles conferred to a white passenger, Michael Heffernan, that he was worried he'd miss his flight because of his apparent dress-code violation. So, imagine Miles' surprise when he saw Mr. Heffernan and a friend sitting in first-class, wearing almost the exact same outfits that barred the Warrens from sitting in their seats - jeans and hoodies.
After initially saying that the complaint was under review, Andrew Christie, a spokesperson for US Airways, told AlterNet:
"We welcome customers of all ethnicities and backgrounds and do not tolerate discrimination of any kind. We take these allegations seriously." Christie added, "Initial indications are that these pass-riders were traveling on non-revenue tickets as part of our employee travel program. All employees and pass-riders are expected to comply with the policies associated with this travel privilege."
So passengers using "non-revenue" tickets are held to a dress code while other passengers are not? Why, exactly, to prove they are worthy of flying first-class? That doesn't sound like a fair and equitable company policy. There always seems to be discrimination when traveling while Black - whether by air, car or on foot.