A co-leader of the Women’s March movement who was booted off an American Airlines flight over the weekend demanded an official apology from the airline Tuesday and said the pilot and gate agent involved should be at least reprimanded.
Activist Tamika Mallory conducted a news conference at an office in New York on Tuesday morning and said, “Enough is enough.”
Surrounded by her lawyer, activists and supporters, Mallory accused the airline pilot of discrimination, demanded an apology and called on American Airlines to institute policies that protect customers.
“I understand that this happened to me because other people need to have their voices heard,” she said.
“I want to ensure that there are policies instituted within American Airlines that ensure that what happened to me will not happen to another person, and if it does, that there will be immediate action taken.”
Mallory was kicked off an American Airlines flight from Miami to New York on Sunday after a dispute with a gate agent about her seat assignment escalated.
She said the pilot “got involved in something that had nothing to do with him, and came down the jet bridge to reprimand me, to ask me whether or not I knew how to behave.”
She said his behavior was discriminatory.
“I had to basically tell master that I was not going to be a runaway slave,” she said.
She said she returned to her seat and about 15 minutes later was called to the front and ordered off the plane. That’s when she became enraged, she said.
“I feel that they should be reprimanded,” she said of the pilot and gate agent. “Whether or not firing them is what needs to happen — I believe they need to be fired, but I don’t want to get ahead of the legal strategy.”
American Airlines said earlier that it apologized to Mallory for the seating incident — in which the gate agent reversed a change Mallory made at a kiosk — but denied the thrust of her allegation.
“Our team does not tolerate discrimination of any kind," said spokesman Ross Feinstein. “This was about de-escalating a situation onboard the aircraft.”
The crew decided that the best thing to do was rebook Mallory on the next flight to New York's LaGuardia Airport, and Mallory took that flight, Feinstein told The Associated Press.
Some passengers told AP that Mallory cursed and was abusive to crew members on the plane, and Mallory does not dispute that. She said Tuesday that the cursing happened at the end of the episode and added: “I did that. I did all that. I yelled. Because enough is enough. ... If I had to do it all over again, I would do the same exact damn thing.”
Mallory was co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington and is active in gun control, health care and police issues.