Spirit Airlines responds to Detroit woman's allegations of racism on flight

Jul 15, 2019 at 12:02 pm
click to enlarge Spirit Airlines responds to Detroit woman's allegations of racism on flight
Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines defended how its flight attendants handled allegations of racism by a Detroit woman on a flight from Las Vegas to Chicago.

Tiarra Dowdell said on Facebook that she was forced to find another seat when a white woman refused to allow Dowdell to sit next to her on June 25.

Spirit Airlines launched an investigation and found that its flight attendants “had no indication this incident was race-related,” said airline spokesman Derek Dombrowski.

“Upon speaking to the passenger in question, she explained she believed the seat next to her was unassigned and wanted more space,” Dombrowski tells Metro Times in a statement. “Our Crew told her that was not the case, and she would be sitting next to someone. Despite informing the passenger of this, the Guest no longer felt comfortable sitting next to the passenger. Our Crew reseated the Guest by switching her seat and reseating another Guest [in] the seat in question.”

Dowdell didn’t respond to Metro Times for comment but said on Facebook that the incident was clearly racist and the woman refused to let Dowdell sit by her.

"Like refuses it to the point that she is arguing with the flight attendant about how she is not going to let me sit by her," Dowdell wrote. "Luckily there were other (white) people on the plane who chose to switch seats with me so I wouldn’t have to sit by her which she happily allowed."

Dowdell said in another Facebook post that the flight attendants should have done more.

“My thing is after refusing to let me sit down the flight attendants should have made her move,” Dowdell wrote. “I shouldn't have needed to switch seats to accommodate her choice of what race she wanted next to her and her husband. I had to ask someone to switch seats with me because she didn’t want to sit by a black woman in 2019!!!! The attendants thanked me multiple times for being a team player... I said why do I have to be a team player to someone who is obviously putting her racist cards on the table. Them allowing her to block the seat should have been enough for them to escort her off the plane. But Obviously her being comfortable was more important, maybe I was asking for too much.”

Spirit Airlines said it “has zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind and is dedicated to maintaining a welcoming environment for our Guests while celebrating the diversity of both our Team and our Guests.”

“We sincerely apologize that our Guest felt uncomfortable, and we have reached out to her to listen to her concerns and further discuss the incident,” the airline said in a statement.  

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