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Black musician says he was falsely accused of trafficking his own children aboard American Airlines flight

Black musician accused of trafficking his own children on American Airlines flight to LAX
Black musician accused of trafficking his own children on American Airlines flight to LAX 02:29

One of the nation's biggest airlines has been called into the spotlight after a Black father was accused of trafficking his own children on a flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles earlier in September. 

David Ryan Harris, a musician who has collaborated with the likes of John Mayer, Carlos Santana and the Dave Matthews Band, recently took to social media to tell his story, and ask for people to "do better" after the incident rattled his family. 

Harris says that he was aboard an American Airlines flight two weeks ago, heading to LAX with his two biracial sons, Truman and Hendrix. As they were de-boarding the plane, they found four police officers waiting for them at the gate. 

"Apparently, a flight attendant had called ahead with some sort of concern that perhaps my mixed children weren't my children," Harris said in a video posted on his social media accounts. "We are met, embarrassingly so, by this AA employee and police officers. They questioned my kids."

It took American Airlines officials more than a week to contact Harris after the incident, despite his attempts to contact their customer service line. He did not receive any communication until he posted his story online. 

"There were many steps she could have taken before she lobbed the hand grenade of having the authorities called," Harris said of the flight attendant who called the police.

Harris says that someone with American Airlines saw his story on their social media feed and reached out to him several days ago, offering an apology and 10,000 frequent flyer miles. 

"I had to go through a ticket counter. I had to go past federal agents. It should stop with the federal agent, once we get past TSA, I don't want to hear from a flight attendant what kind of hunch they have," he said. 

In response to KCAL News' request for more information on the airline's human trafficking policies, American Airlines issued a statement that said:

"The safety and security of our customers and team members are our top priorities. We strive to create a positive, welcoming environment for everyone who travels with us and apologize for any misunderstanding that may have occurred. A member of our team reached out to the customer to learn more about their experience and address their concerns."

Apparently this isn't the first time that something like this has happened in recent years, as one woman shared her story with KCAL News after Harris' story gained motion. 

Mary MacCarthy, a Los Angeles woman, says that a very similar incident happened to her as she traveled with her biracial daughter, Moira, aboard a Southwest flight in 2021. 

"I hear all the time from parents that this is happening to. The only commonality in the families that reach out to me is that the parent has a different skin color than the child who is involved," MacCarthy said. "Clearly, something is wrong with the training flight crews are undergoing."

The MacCarthy's sued Southwest Airlines after they were confronted at the airport.

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