Kyetra Bryant says after taking an American Airlines flight out of Charlotte, North Carolina, with her boyfriend, she soon noticed an unusual fee on her bank statement: “African American African Service Charge.”
Despite using separate debit cards to pay for their luggage fees, Bryant’s boyfriend received the same statement, she said in a social media post.
Upset and confused, Bryant said she has been trying to get an explanation, and an apology from the airline, since seeing the charges the weekend after Thanksgiving. She hasn’t had much luck.
After being passed from department to department, she said she was eventually told the incident was being investigated, but she’s never received an answer as to how it happened.
“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,” Bryant said.
Whatever the reason, “there’s really no justification,” she told Fox 46. “We definitely felt targeted. That’s an instance of racial bias.”
But American Airlines says the company is not to blame for the offensive billing.
When Bryant alerted the airline in mid-December, officials were “disturbed by what we saw and immediately launched an investigation into what occurred,” American Airlines said in a statement.
“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,” the statement said. “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.”
In an email to McClatchy News on Monday, a Mastercard spokesperson said: “We are in the process of conducting a thorough investigation, however it is our understanding that American Airlines is not responsible for this error. 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.”