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Did American Airlines Charge an “African American” Fee to Flyers?

A pair of Charlotte-based flyers claimed they were the targets of discrimination after paying for luggage prior to a trip aboard American Airlines. Photos shared by the flyers on social media show they received an “African American” service fee – but the debit card provider calls it a major mistake.

An American Airlines flyer claims she was a target of discrimination, after receiving an “African American” charge after paying for her luggage. Charlotte Fox affiliate WJZY-TV reports the charge showed up on an online banking app shortly after making the luggage payment – but the airline claimed to know nothing about the charge.

How an “African American” Fee Showed Up From a Luggage Charge

Kyetra Bryant and her boyfriend were traveling on Thanksgiving Day 2020 aboard American out of Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT). During check-in, the pair bought checked luggage using separate debit cards from a self-service kiosk and boarded without incident.

After checking her bank account two days later, Bryant said she found a strange charge on her account. According to her story and images later shared on social media, the luggage charge showed up as “African American Service” charge. Moreover, she says the charges on her boyfriend’s bank account read the same.


“I have a screenshot here on two different phones and a computer, and it says it’s from American Charlotte,” Bryant told WJZY. “And I want to know why it’s listed this way?”

For over two months, Bryant made multiple inquiries between American and Capital One, her bank. Both parties blamed the other for the way the charge read, with the airline squarely blaming Capital One for the offensive wording.

“We were disturbed by what we saw and immediately launched an investigation to understand what occurred,” read a statement from the airline to WJZY. “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.”

In a subsequent statement published by the station, Capital One confirmed that “…this technical issue is the miscoding of a merchant’s name,” and was completely unrelated to the flyer. Bryant is still blaming American for the issue, and is requesting an apology from the Fort Worth-based airline.

“There’s really no justification. We definitely felt targeted,” Bryant told WJZY. “That’s an instance of racial bias.”

Accusations Come Despite American’s Support for “Equity and Inclusion”

The claims against American come after the carrier was one of the first to publicly support the “Black Lives Matter” movement. In September 2020, after consulting their Black Professional Network employee group, the company allowed employees to wear pins in support of the cause on their uniforms.

TheHorta August 13, 2021

Arabiamark nailed it. Welcome to Clown World.

mvoight August 12, 2021

Why should AA apologize for a Capital One programming error?

ryan754 February 11, 2021

It was a luggage fee 😂 they are staying they got a African American charge. No was the luggage fee they agreed to pay 🤦🏼‍♂️. Yes there was some glitch. Zero apologies owed from anyone. Just like if I got a White American charge in a Bogotá or South Africa. Who cares. If I owned AA. I’d ban their asses for no reason just because this is not the customer I want.

sunil February 11, 2021

C1 and AA should apologize and move one. Hopefully lawyers don't try to squeeze them for compensation.

Asknorm February 9, 2021

WillCAD gets it and recognizes why those who discount this as an IT glitch have never had to deal with a situation that was tinged with race.