An investigation is underway after a North Carolina woman reported that she received an “African American, African service charge” on her bank statement after flying with American Airlines over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Kyetra Bryant of Charlotte told Fox 46 that she noticed the strange charge on her bank statement on Saturday after she and her boyfriend traveled out of Charlotte Douglas Airport on Thanksgiving day on an American Airlines flight.
The couple had checked in with the airline and checked luggage without a problem.
“I said hmmm, ‘African American, African service charge.’ It was just on my cellphone because I was looking at my banking app. I’m like ‘what is this?’” she explained.
Bryant said she reached out to American Airlines and was told by are representative, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Although Bryant and her boyfriend bought their tickets on separate debit cards, she says their statements both included the offensive wording. (The screenshot Bryant posted in support of her claim showed a line saying “African American African Servi,” which seems to correspond to the name of a business in Charlotte.)
Bryant said she felt “targeted” by what she read and wrote on Facebook that she “had no idea the trip would be ruined due to racial profiling and bias.”
American Airlines said it isn’t to blame for the billing description, and a spokesperson for Mastercard also confirmed the airline isn’t responsible for the error. “It is our understanding that American Airlines is not responsible for this error,” a Mastercard spokesperson said on Feb. 1. Both companies have announced that investigations are underway.
A spokesperson for American Airlines said an investigation was launched regarding the charge — which the company says originated at a self-service checked baggage kiosk —right after Bryant alerted the airline about it in mid-December.
“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. 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,” the spokesperson for the airline said.
However, Bryant has asserted that the bank has nothing to do with the offensive charge. “The bank told American directly, we don’t have anything to do with that. When you put something into your system, we charge it as the merchant charges it, and that’s it,” Bryant said.
She added that the charge hasn’t been changed on her or her boyfriend’s bank statements.
On Facebook, Bryant said she hadn’t “received an apology or a response in almost a month” other than it was being “investigated” and that her bank “clearly stated that they have no control over the verbiage presented by the merchant.”
Bryant said there is no justification for what happened and called the charge an incidence of “racial bias.” American Airlines
“Our bank issuing and payment processing partners are working to understand how the error occurred so this does not happen again,” Mastercard said in a statement.