Track and field star Sha’Carri Richardson was booted from an American Airlines plane on Saturday following an apparent altercation with a flight attendant because she was told to end a mobile phone call prior to departure.
In a series of Instagram posts, the 23-year-old sprinter said she felt aggrieved by the “unprofessional” manner in which the flight attendant asked her to stop using her mobile phone.
“It was just the way he was talking to me, I definitely would have listened to instruction, but the way he talked to me was very unprofessional, and then his hands were all in my face,” Richardson said in the video.
A short time later, Richardson was reprimanded by another passenger who complained they would miss their connection as a result of the delay while she was removed from the plane.
As Richarson protested her removal with airline supervisors, passengers could be heard in the background demanding she leave the aircraft. In a parting shot, Richardson could be heard saying: “I’m still a superstar, what the f**k is your problem, you’re a regular person”.
Richardson was reacting to a comment from one passenger about her qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. After qualifying for the 100-meter sprint in the US Olympic Team, Richardson was subsequently disqualified after she tested positive for Cannabis during a random drug test.
In one video, Richardson told the male flight attendant that she felt like he was harassing her after he stood in the aisle during the safety briefing.
“Flying not working today,” Richardson says to herself in the video. Although she did not say where she was meant to be flying, Richardson says it was “vacation time”.
Richardson refused several requests from the flight attendant to stop filming before getting into an argument with other passengers who seemingly take the side of the flight attendant.
“Tell me if I’ll be wrong to pursue legal actions against the airline. Not only did the man threaten me but also an innocent bystander who simply just wanted a picture with me,” Richardson says in an Instagram post.
“In the beginning of the video, you can hear a Caucasian male state that he doesn’t give a f*** as a man that [a] male flight attendant is intimidating a woman.”
“Also the captain not doing anything to help the situation and this flight attendant has the applause when I exited the plane when I’m pretty serious the disrespect I received would not have happened if I was a one of them.”
American Airlines did not immediately comment on the incident.
Late last week, a lawsuit was filed in District Court for Northern Flordia by an American Airlines passenger who claimed he was removed from a plane in early 2021 because he was African American.
Troskie Stewart, 43, says a flight attendant picked him out because of his ethnicity and that American Airlines has a problem with a “policy of permitting airline personnel to exercise unfettered discretion to remove passengers from flights based upon their race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, or national origin”.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.