Airline Passenger Removed From Flight Because of Her Outfit Choice

Kristine Solomon
Amanda Stevens was kicked off her flight then stranded for hours in the airport. (Photo: Getty Images)
Amanda Stevens was kicked off her flight then stranded for hours in the airport. (Photo: Getty Images)

Freelance e-sports journalist Amanda Stevens boarded a United Airlines flight on Wednesday from Albany, N.Y., to Chicago. She was en route to cover the quarterfinals of the League of Legends — an online battle game — wearing an outfit she’d flown in before: a Black Panther baseball cap (an homage to the Marvel Comics character) and a T-shirt bearing an upside-down American flag, according to Gizmodo’s io9.

While the plane was still on the tarmac, Stevens was asked by flight staff to remove the gear. Her clothing made the pilot uncomfortable, she was told. Stevens, somewhat sensitive to the possibly offensive nature of her shirt, tells io9 that in the past, she’s worn it inside out, and there was never a problem. It should be noted, though, that PacSun, the makers of the A$AP Rocky shirt, pulled the design from stores in 2015, saying in a statement at the time, “Out of respect for those who have put their lives on the line for our country, we have decided to stop selling the licensed flag T-shirt.”

Still, Stevens felt the punishment did not fit the “crime.” She published a photo of the black-and-white tee on Twitter, and wrote, “Dear this shirt shouldn’t make your pilot uncomfortable enough to warrant having me spoken to and told to take it off.”

As for the hat, Stevens felt that being asked to remove it was a pure act of discrimination. She wrote of the offended pilot, “I didn’t know he has to look at me while he flies. I feel uncomfortable having a racist pilot,” adding that the pilot “didn’t seem bothered to give me a smug look when he walked past me to the bathroom.” Just before 8:00 p.m., Stevens tweeted that she was booted from the flight.

About a half hour later, the official Twitter account for United Airlines posted a public tweet asking Stevens to “…please DM your confirmation number and MileagePlus information? We’d like to follow up on this.”

When io9 contacted Stevens via phone, she elaborated on the event, describing “a tense exchange with a flight attendant who asked her to place her bag under the seat in front of her.” Stevens told the publication she simply grumbled out of frustration. When ejected from the flight, though, this “tense exchange” was cited by United Airlines, via direct message on Twitter, as the reason, according to the interview.

Stevens told io9 that she returned to the service counter at the terminal gate, fully expecting to be booked on another flight. She claims it was there she was abandoned by United Airlines staffers who retreated to an “employees-only” area.

United Airlines has since released a brief statement to io9 with regard to Stevens’ ordeal. It reads, “We are in contact with Ms. Stevens to discuss this matter further. Both United and SkyWest hold our employees to the highest standards of professionalism and have zero tolerance for discrimination.”

On Twitter, Stevens claims that she never argued with the flight crew, and that eventually she landed home “in one piece.” She stands by her belief that the flight crew acted in a racist manner. And even while accusations of racism are being leveled against her, she maintains a sense of humor about the incident. Of what she learned from the experience, she tweeted, “people actually think the black panthers are domestic terrorists.”

In her latest tweet, she writes, “Following me because of the drama? Welcome. I’m not that interesting. Here’s what I tweet about. & what you signed up for,” she tweeted, listing  rights  and  among her main topics.

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