When trying to return from Houston last Sunday, things looked to be smooth sailing a couple hours before takeoff: I checked with my co-worker on the status of an earlier flight than I’d planned (3:47), and even though I was a standby passenger, there were plenty of empty seats left. Unfortunately, the 1:10 flight was delayed by 5 hours, and a bunch of connecting passengers were protected on the 3:47, leaving little room for standbys.
One of these standbys was a black man, and he was the next to be assigned a seat…the final seat remaining. About 10 seconds before he would have gotten his boarding pass, a white connecting passenger dashed to the gate, and took the last seat.
The black standby guy, who’d apparently been in the airport for a while, started sputtering and demanded an explanation as to why the seat he was so close to getting was taken away. As the agent explained that the confirmed connector had priority, he spat out “This is RACISM!”
If the agent at the counter weren’t also black, maybe he would have believed his own words. As it was, only my sympathy for his plight prevented me from generating some sort of noticeable guffawing sound.