American Airlines has apologized to two NBA G League players that were removed from a plane headed to Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Sunday after a flight attendant accused them of stealing blankets from first class.
Memphis Hustle guard Marquis Teague (pictured above) and Hustle forward Trahson Burrell received blankets from two passengers in first-class while they were making their way to their seats in coach. A flight attendant saw the two players with the blankets and assumed they must have stolen them. The players were escorted off the flight a short time later. The flight attendant and the two players are all black.
After the mishap, American Airlines spokesman Joshua Freed said that an airline manager apologized to the players for the incident and that the two ultimately ended up flying first class to South Dakota. "We take pride in bringing people together, and we know that on this flight we let some of our customers down," Freed told NBC DFW. "Our team at American, along with Envoy Air, is reviewing what happened, and will be reaching out to them."
American Airlines chairman and chief executive officer Doug Parker told airline employees in November that the company would be implementing implicit-bias training starting in the new year in response to several incidents involving black passengers in 2017.
Hustle coach Glynn Cyprien and assistant Darnell Lazare were both vocal about the mix-up involving their players on Twitter.
"American Airlines needs sensitivity training to attendants on flights dealing with humans & blankets," Cyprien wrote on the social media site.
Lazare had a bit more to say.
"It’s 2017 and a flight attendant for [American Airlines] sees 2 young black athletes with blankets from first class and his first comment is 'did you steal them?' How about you teach people to get the facts first before jumping to conclusions," Lazare tweeted Sunday, before following up with the hashtag #beingblackinamerican.
An American Airlines representative responded to Cyprien’s statement by saying: "In our culture, every interaction with a customer or team member should be grounded in respect. Please DM your record locator and details." The flight was operated by the air carrier Envoy Air.