Photo: Alexander Hassenstein / Staff via Getty Images
  /  01.21.2023

Track star Sha’Carri Richardson’s vacation plans hit a snag on Saturday (Jan. 21) while onboard an American Airlines flight. She said a male flight attendant harassed and threatened her before she was escorted off the plane.

In her Instagram Stories, Richardson explained she was on a call as flight attendants began to go through their safety demonstrations. The male attendant, whom she identified as John, allegedly asked her to end the call. She obliged, but their interaction continued to escalate.

Richardson wrote, “I stated to him [that] I didn’t like the tone he used with me. Following that, while standing in front of me doing the safety protocols, he continued to lean over to look at my phone. He asked to see that my phones were in airplane mode. At this point, he demanded that [I] show him, which I did in front of him.”

Additional footage of the ordeal showed the sprinter recording herself as she talked about being on vacation. For a brief moment, John entered the frame but quickly moved behind a curtain as he uttered something to Richardson. She responded, “I’m recording me, but you jumped in my video, so I caught you because you jumped in my video. You’re harassing me at this point, so I think you should stop. I think you should stop.”

The 23-year-old managed to maintain a calm approach to the turmoil until a male passenger interjected to call her selfish for causing him to miss his connecting flight. She claimed another passenger later took a jab at her 2021 Tokyo Olympics ban. Other nearby passengers also grew frustrated as they suggested she stop arguing with the flight’s staff.

When Richardson posted the recording to her page, she questioned if she should take legal action against the airline and if the outcome would have been different if she were white. “Tell me if I’ll be wrong to pursue legal actions against the airline @americanair. Not only did the man threaten me but also an innocent bystander who simply just wanted a picture with me,” she wrote. In the caption, she also mentioned, “I’m pretty serious; the disrespect I received would not have happened if I was one of them… If I can help just one person not have to deal with a situation like this with an individual like this, I’ll take the heat.”

The post gained support from numerous social media users, including pro football player Odell Beckham, Jr., who had a similar unpleasant encounter where he too was escorted off of an American Airlines flight earlier this month. He commented, “Tell me [you] got kicked off the American flight for no reason” and “Whaaaat, but I’m the a**hole.”

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