Henderson traveled to Atlanta with her boyfriend to visit family in late January.
Her mother had only met her boyfriend in passing, so this was the big meeting.
Atlanta is a major Delta hub. Henderson said she had flown exclusively with the airline, but that all changed with this latest trip.
“I just want them to recognize that they made me feel helpless and they can’t do that to clients moving forward,” she said in an interview with ABC7 News.
On Henderson’s return flight on February 3, she said she experienced what amounted to a game of musical chairs mid-flight.
She was ticketed for a window seat in row 15, but by the end of the flight she would be sitting in row 34.
Henderson said the two women seated in the row next to her in the aisle and middle seats, who appeared to be flying together, complained to flight attendants about their seat assignment.
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“They felt like they had first class seats, but they couldn’t provide the tickets,” Henderson said.
She said the complaints lasted more than an hour after the robbery, by which time Henderson began recording part of the exchange.
Henderson provided an audio recording to our sister station KGO-TV in San Francisco of what she says was a conversation between a flight attendant and the two women seated next to her.
A person can be heard saying, “Unfortunately, my first class seats are full.”
Another responds: “What are they?”
“They’re busy,” the first person said.
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Henderson said eventually Delta flight attendants came back with a solution to give women more space, but Henderson would have to be the one to move.
In the audio recording Henderson shared with ABC7 News, you can hear someone ask him, “Are you flying on your own?”
Henderson can be heard responding that she is, followed by the person who says, “There’s a seat over there in aisle 34. That’s a seat in the aisle.”
The recording then stops.
Henderson said at no time did the flight attendants suggest the women seated next to her, who were unhappy with their seat assignments, move.
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She said she complied with the flight attendants’ instructions and was moved to an aisle seat in row 34, the last row where passengers sat.
“I don’t want to make a rush of it, but instead of asking the two white women who were sitting next to me (to move), in an attempt to accommodate them, they basically made me move. I didn’t I just don’t know why I had to move because that was the seat that I paid for, that was the seat that was given to me,” Henderson said.
She said she was embarrassed by the experience and did not refuse orders from flight attendants for fear of being called disruptive and potentially reprimanded.
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The Federal Aviation Administration website states that “The FAA strictly enforces a zero-tolerance policy toward passengers who cause flight disruptions or disobey flight crew instructions in violation of FAA regulations. or who engage in conduct prohibited by federal law.”
“As I come back out there, it’s just humbling. It’s like the whole flight is looking at you and asking what’s going on,” she said.
After returning to the Bay Area, Henderson spent the next few days trying to contact Delta Airlines to file a complaint about his experience.
When she finally got a customer service representative on the phone, she said she was unhappy with the interaction.
Henderson provided an audio recording to ABC7 News of what she says was a conversation between her and a Delta Airlines customer service agent.
“How were you humiliated for them to ask you to go to another seat?” the person can be heard asking in the recording.
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According to Henderson, the person was a customer service representative for Delta Airlines, said since she had moved from a main economy seat to another main economy seat, there was no inconvenience.
“Are you saying there’s nothing you can do?” Henderson replied.
“No, not in these circumstances that I am showing to madam,” the person replied.
Unsatisfied with this response, Henderson contacted ABC7 News.
Following KGO-TV’s intervention, a Delta Airlines spokesperson issued the following statement:
“We are reviewing this situation to better understand what happened. Delta has zero tolerance for discrimination in any form and these allegations run counter to our core values of respect and honoring the community. diversity of our customers.”
Henderson thinks those words are hollow after his experience.
“I, as a black woman, was moved to make two white women comfortable. It just doesn’t make sense to me,” she said.
When asked if she would fly with Delta again, Henderson replied, “Never. Never again.”
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