Officials with United Airlines admit they lost track of a New Orleans man’s white privilege after he was asked to check it at the gate before boarding a direct flight to San Francisco last week.
Attorney Jeffrey Walker recalls he was preparing to board United Flight 2035 at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport when the gate attendant informed him that he would have to check his white privilege before being allowed to get on the plane. Upon arriving in the Bay Area after the nearly five-hour flight, however, his privilege was nowhere to be found, he said.
“I fly on business about a dozen times a year, and this is the first time I’ve ever been told I needed to check my privilege at the gate,” Walker explained. “My white privilege has never been an issue on a flight before. I can’t believe they made me check it. I knew they’d lose it.”
The 46-year-old Walker speculates he may have been asked to check his privilege because he inadvertently tried to board the plane prematurely, which he insists happens frequently, and he claims he’s never seen it result in a demand to check one’s privilege.
“My white privilege is no more oversized or unwieldy than any of the other white privileges that were carried onto that flight.”
“They announced they were boarding group one, which includes Premier Platinum members,” Walker recounted, “so I approached the gate with my ticket and ID in hand. But it turns out I’m a Premier Gold member, which means I’m in group two.”
Walker contends it was an “honest mistake,” but said that since he was already there and most of group one had already boarded, he asked the United gate attendant if she could let him on the plane then so he wouldn’t have to get back in line. He believes this request is what led to being told to check his white privilege.
“Honestly, my white privilege is no more oversized or unwieldy than any of the other white privileges that were carried onto that flight,” Walker asserts. “I pleaded with her to let me keep it with me, but to no avail. I shouldn’t have had to check my white privilege in the first place, and now those idiots have lost it. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of their baggage handlers swiped my white privilege and is running all over the place flaunting it, like he somehow earned it.”
While a United spokesperson admits the airline did lose Walker’s privilege, United maintains the attendant did not violate any company policies or federal regulations by requiring Walker to check his privilege before boarding. The spokesperson added that the airline is working to resolve the issue to Walker’s satisfaction, something that may prove difficult.
“Those bastards owe me over 300 years of institutionalized socioeconomic advantages,” Walker argues. “Good luck writing a check big enough to cover that.”