A Georgia father took to social media to blast American Airlines after he was met at the beginning of the jetway by four police officers and an airline employee who questioned whether his biracial children actually belonged to him during a recent trip from Atlanta to Los Angeles.
David Ryan Harris said the embarrassing incident happened on Sept. 15. It was prompted because his two mixed-race boys, one 7-year-old with big curly blondish-brown hair and bright blue eyes, would not speak to a flight attendant who tried to engage them during the approximately six-hour flight.
“A flight attendant had called ahead with some sort of concern that perhaps my mixed children weren’t my children because they were unresponsive during an interaction with her,” he stated in a video on his Instagram.
He explained that the flight was scheduled for around 7:17 a.m., and to ensure they would be on time for the trip, he had to wake the kids up at 4:15 a.m.
The woman briefly asked the children for their names in what he described as a 30-second interaction. However, they did not respond as she might have expected. One of the children, the father mentioned, is “pretty shy.” Nevertheless, even with the boy’s reserved nature, “he doesn’t owe” a conversation, handshake, or any engagement to anyone.
Despite the tickets being legitimate, the flight attendant called ahead and alerted authorities about this dark, brown-skinned Black man traveling with his lighter-skinned children.
Upon arrival at LAX, the police and other airline employees stopped him and the children. They publicly questioned the children but were eventually satisfied that he was not involved in any wrongdoing. He attempted to file a complaint with the company’s customer service telephone line, but when that didn’t work, he turned to online channels for a digital complaint. After about a week without a response, he decided to use social media to get the company’s attention.
“I don’t care what you say if this had been a white dad/mom with 2 little black kids, they would probably been offered an upgrade, not an interrogation,” he captioned on his Instagram post, adding, “I forgot to note that American has been my airline of choice since 2004. #fixyourshit”
The singer mentioned that the attendant should have taken more steps to verify his identity and that of his children before suspecting him of a crime. In a second video, he expressed his dissatisfaction with what he considered poor customer service, particularly the lack of contact from the airline after he lodged a complaint. He also clarified that while they never explicitly accused him of child trafficking, their concern was ensuring he wasn’t traveling with children who weren’t his without proper permission over a distance of more than 2,100 miles.
American Airlines did release a statement regarding the incident, stating, “We apologize for any misunderstanding that may have occurred. A member of our team is reaching out to the customer to learn more about their experience and address their concerns.”
Harris confirmed in a third video Monday evening that a representative from American Airlines contacted him after seeing his complaint on his X, formerly Twitter, feed, and explained the criteria for raising the alarm about child trafficking.
Harris said the representative told him that an investigation would be launched, offered 10,000 frequent flyer miles, and apologized after being prompted.
“But you get 50,000 if you open an AA card, so it’s kind of insulting. But, you know, I took the miles, and I was just like, I’ll just make a mental note that this is kind of trash,” Harris said.