A woman is suing Frontier Airlines for racial discrimination after gate agents allegedly prioritized a group of African American passengers ahead of customers of different ethnicities on an oversold flight from Philadelphia to Orlando on June 13.
Kusmin Amarsingh, who is of Indian heritage, filed the lawsuit in a Colorado district court late last month, alleging the Denver-based low-cost carrier discriminated against passengers based on their race, color and national origin.
Should Kusmin win the case, he is demanding $115 in compensation for the emotional distress that Frontier Airlines has caused him.
The incident unfolded on June 12, 2023, when Kusmin arrived at Philadelphia International Airport to catch a flight to St Louis via Orlando in order to be with her family after attending the funeral of a close family friend in Pennsylvania.
The first of two flights to get Kusmin to her family was oversold, and gate agents attempted, unsuccessfully, to get volunteers to come forward and give up their seat for a cash refund and free ticket for a later flight.
When that didn’t work, the airline offered $800 in addition to the refund but still there were no takers.
When it came time to start boarding, Kusmin says she lined up with other passengers but her boarding pass was marked ‘Seat: TBD’ and she was sent to wait with a group of other passengers who also didn’t yet have a seat.
Among that group was a family group of 8-10 African American passengers who were ‘ushered’ onboard the plane by the lead gate agent who was also of African American appearance.
The only other passengers to make it onboard was a mother and daughter of Asian appearance, Kusmin claims.
“Of the passengers left without seats, none were African American, except the possible mixed-race gentleman I mentioned previously,” Kusmin says in her lawsuit. “The lead agent called that individual to the front of the line, and provided him alone with some information which I could not hear”.
The rest of the group, five of Hispanic appearance, two of Indian descent and a white male were told to wait until the plane had departed. Eventually they were offered a flight refund and $400 in compensation, although Kusmin says the agents were rude and dismissive.
In the end, Kusmin booked an alternative flight with American Airlines to her home in Destin in, Florida which left her $1,000 out of pocket.
“Frontier Airlines racially discriminated against me when it’s agents racially profiled passengers and excluded me because I was not nor appeared to be African American,” the lawsuit alleges.
“Frontier Airlines agents degraded me and deliberately humiliated me by yelling at me in a crowded airport because I was not African American,” the lawsuit continues. “Absolutely no one deserves to be treated in this manner, especially on the basis of race”.
Frontier Airlines did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The case is being managed under reference: 23-cv-01875-SBP
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.