American Airlines Passenger Receives ‘African American Service Charge’ on Flight
A North Carolina woman said she received an “African American service charge” after reviewing her bank statement following an American Airlines flight.
Kyetra Bryant said she and her partner booked the flight out of Charlotte Douglas Airport on Thanksgiving Day last year but didn’t notice the charge from a self-service baggage kiosk until she looked at her bank statement.
“Over Thanksgiving Wes and I traveled to Denver from the Charlotte International Airport via American Airlines,” Bryant wrote in a since-deleted Facebook post on January 28. “We both used different cards to pay for our luggage and instead of it being noted as such, both of our bank statements read AFRICAN AMERICAN SERVICE CHARGE.”
Bryant said the couple had paid for their own tickets and checked-in luggage separately and on different debit cards.
However, in a strange twist, her partner said he also received the same unusual bank charge and accompanying statement.
Wanting an answer for the offensive charge, Bryant said she contacted American Airlines but was disappointed by their response.
“The manager at the airport gave some sob story about how sorry she was but I got no answers. I was told that all I could do was file a complaint. I got called by one person and then it was sent to IT to be ‘investigated’ but still no one has an answer as to why it was listed that way,” she continued in the Facebook post.
“Honestly, I didn’t expect a response but I’m not stupid and no I don’t think it was a mistake. Never flying with them again but it’s funny how they keep passing it off to different departments.”
Bryant said for months she was passed between the airline and her bank while the two blamed the other for the charge.
“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,” she told Fox 46.
However, American Airlines says it is not responsible for the incident.
“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 Airline told Fox.
“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.”
Mastercard also confirmed the bank had launched an investigation into the matter.
“We are in the process of conducting a thorough investigation, however it is our understanding that American Airlines is not responsible for this error,” a spokesperson said in an email to Revolt News on Monday. “American Airlines submitted the transaction correctly for a checked baggage purchase — including the proper merchant name. Our bank issuing and payment processing partners are working to understand how the error occurred so this does not happen again.”
Capital One, which issued the Mastercard to Bryant, said its investigation found that the error was a “technical issue” stemming from the “miscoding of a merchant’s name.”READ MORE
“We are actively investigating precisely where the technology misinterpreted the merchant data and we are correcting the issue …. It is entirely unrelated to any specific customer information,” the bank added.
Bryant believes the incident was not a mistake and is an instance of racial bias.
“There’s really no justification,” she told Fox 46. “We definitely felt targeted.”
Newsweek has contacted American Airlines and Mastercard for comment.
Correction: 2/3/21: This article originally stated that Kyetra Bryant was made to pay an “African American service charge.” Bryant received the charge after reviewing her bank statement following the flight. Newsweek regrets the error.