The signs of airline discrimination may not always be easy to spot. After all, traveling can be a chaotic experience by nature with people constantly moving through security or clamoring for an overhead bin to fit their carry-on bag.
Nevertheless, no passenger should have to tolerate or even expect unfair treatment amid all the chaos. The U.S. Department of Transportation states that it is illegal for an airline to discriminate against individual passengers, especially if it is based on how someone looks, talks or dresses. If you are not certain that you experienced airline discrimination, consider whether any of the following scenarios might have happened to you in one way or another:
- Being unnecessarily moved to a different seat while on board -- Perhaps you boarded your flight and settled into your seat, only to find out that the person sitting next to you feels uncomfortable because of how you look or dress. If an airline employee affirms this person's discomfort and reassigns you to a new seat, you may have been the victim of airline discrimination.
- Being denied boarding for no reason -- Maybe you checked in for your flight and everything seemed fine until you were denied boarding at the gate. It is important to know that an airline must have a legitimate reason to deny someone boarding, such as an oversold flight. An airline may not, however, make a judgment call based on your physical appearance and keep you from boarding for no apparent reason. The same expectations apply to an airline's decision to remove a passenger from a plane.
- Receiving different service from other passengers -- Being treated worse than other passengers for no reason can be another sign that you might be experiencing airline discrimination. You may have been checking in, boarding at your gate, or even already on board your flight when you noticed that an airline employee was significantly nicer to the passengers around you, yet particularly cold to you.
You have the right to fly without being mistreated
There may be other ways that you might have experienced airline discrimination, and, regardless of the circumstances, it is important to know your rights as a customer. Consider filing a complaint with the responsible airline or reaching out to an experienced aviation lawyer who can help protect your rights. No matter the circumstances, no one should have to expect nor tolerate airline discrimination.