'Baggage Claim Becky': Delta apologizes for calling the police on black woman with damaged luggage

Delta Air Lines is apologizing to a black woman for calling the police after an argument over damaged luggage — a situation the woman claims was racially motivated.

A spokesperson sent the following message to Yahoo Lifestyle: “We apologize to this customer for her experience in the Boston baggage service office and Delta is in contact with her to better understand what transpired. We take situations like these seriously and we are working directly with this customer to use this as an opportunity to learn from her experience and improve on future customer interactions.”

On Aug. 24, after traveling on a Delta flight from Kentucky to Massachusetts, business owner Arlene (last name withheld for privacy reasons) noticed that her suitcase was ripped in several places, so she decided to file a baggage claim at Boston Logan International Airport.

“I was told that damage happens to suitcases, which I understand, but I wanted to report it anyway,” Arlene tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “But it didn’t seem like anyone was taking me seriously.”

While waiting for a manager to arrive, Arlene says she noticed some Delta employees snickering in her direction. “I was on the phone with my friend and mentioned they were talking about me,” she says. “Then one told me, ‘No one is talking about you. You’re out of your mind.'”

Arlene says she responded, “Can you please stop talking to me? You’re not a manager and you’re being disrespectful.” When the manager arrived, Arlene relayed the employees’ behavior to him, which he “dismissed” while filing her claim.

(Photo: @ourappguy/Twitter)
(Photo: @ourappguy/Twitter)

When Arlene asked the aforementioned Delta employee, who later identified herself as Teddra, for the manager’s name to include in a customer service complaint, the situation escalated, as depicted in a video shot by Arlene, which her friend tweeted Tuesday.

“He’s not going to be able to come back down here,” Teddra told Arlene, who responded, “But I need his name for my claim.” The worker refuses to provide the man’s name or call him to return. When Teddra realizes Arlene has been filming their interaction, she orders her to stop, then picks up the phone.

“Hey, Frank, it’s Teddra. Can I have the state police in baggage, please?” she said into the phone. “I have a lady who is in my face recording me and won’t leave the office.”

“At that point, I left, intending to call Delta the next day,” Arlene tells Yahoo Lifestyle, adding that on her way out, she walked past two officers heading in the direction of the office. “I studied criminal justice and sociology and I knew if I met with them, it might have escalated. I didn’t want to go to jail. It felt like a life-or-death situation.”

Arlene says she followed up with Delta on four different occasions and didn’t receive a response beyond an initial tweet that read, “I am so very sorry to hear that this happened to you. Rude behavior of any kind isn’t tolerated by our employees, no matter who they are. I will definitely forward your feedback over to the appropriate desk for further review.”

After the footage was shared this week, a Delta employee got in touch with Arlene, asking her to remove the video, a request she refused.

“I do feel like the situation was racial,” Arlene tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “If a white person calls the police on a black person, it can end badly. If I were white, she may not have called.”

“I would like to know why she called the police,” she says. “Company diversity training is needed.”

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