Black Screenwriter Darnell Lamont Walker Puts ‘Racist’ Delta Air Lines on Blast

Delta Air Lines has launched an investigation after a Black screenwriter flying home from the Emmys said he was prevented from boarding his flight by an agent who admitted that it was due to racism.

Darnell Lamont Walker said he tried to call Delta, but the company wouldn’t take complaints over the phone. As an alternative, he posted about his experience on Twitter because “it’s where things change.”

“Gate agent said it was too late to get on my flight – it wasn’t,” Walker tweeted Monday. “Told me to get rebooked at [customer service] then he scanned in the people behind me.”

“Your employee…admittedly didn’t let me onto the flight because I’m Black,” Walker wrote in a subsequent post. “When asking for his name for the complaint, he covered his badge and said he didn’t need to give it, but looked forward [to] reading the complaint anyway.”

Walker, a writer for Netflix’s Karma’s World, was in Los Angeles for the Children’s & Family Emmys award ceremony over the weekend. He filed a formal complaint against Delta on Tuesday, claiming the gate agent said he was too late to catch his flight but, instead, let a group of white passengers board after him.

He shared a copy of the complaint with The Daily Beast, in which he said he arrived at the gate at 11:58 a.m. for a 12:15 p.m. departure from Los Angeles International Airport to Boston.

“[The agent] told me it was too late because the doors closed 15 minutes prior,” Walker wrote in the complaint. “I hel[d] up my phone to his face and told him I still have time before that marker. He told me he was not concerned with the time on my phone (Universal Time) and told me I was too late and to take any issue I had up with the agents at the customer service desk.”

As he waited at the customer service desk, Walker said he recorded the gate agent laughing and joking with a group of white passengers and letting them board the flight.

“Very different from what he gave me,” Walker wrote.

Walker then filmed a white man working behind a counter speaking in a lackadaisical manner to four white passengers before printing off passes and allowing them to board the flight. The clip ends right before the group heads down the jetway.

“After two minutes and thirty seconds, [the agent] scanned them in, and sen[t] them down to the plane,” Walker continued in his complaint, adding that he went back over to the agent for an explanation. However, he said that the agent’s attitude immediately changed and he told Walker to go back to the customer service desk.

“A nearby customer exclaimed that [the agent’s] behavior seemed racist,” Walker wrote in the complaint. “[The agent] responded, ‘It is.’”

Walker said a woman working at the ticketing machine next to the agent announced there was one seat left on the plane and asked if they were waiting for anyone else. Walker told the woman that it was his seat, that he was supposed to be on the flight, but he wrote in his complaint that the woman and the initial agent shouted for him to leave and go back to customer service. Walker said he tried to ask the agent for his name in order to file a complaint, but the man “covered his badge and told me he didn’t have to give it to me.”

Social media users were quick to voice their disgust with how Walker was treated.

“Thanks DLW for putting their ignorant ass behavior on BLAST! Sorry you had to experience that but as usual you showed class and diligence!” a Twitter user wrote.

Other social media users shared their own alleged racial experiences with Delta.

“I’ve had that same experience flying out of LAX on Delta. I do everything in my power never to fly Delta for that reason,” tweeted The Young Turks host Adrienne Lawrence. “You deserved better.”

Walker told The Daily Beast that it took him a while to process the “very racist stuff” that happened.

Delta apologized to Walker on Twitter, saying the company’s “employees reflect our culture of treating all people with dignity and respect, and that is our ultimate goal.”

In a statement to The Daily Beast Wednesday, Delta Air Lines spokesperson Morgan Durrant wrote, “Delta has zero tolerance for discrimination in any form. While we investigate what this customer alleges to that end, we are also in touch with the customer directly to hear more about their experience.”

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