A Better Flight Plan

Connecting Communities

A4A Member Carriers Commemorate Black History Month

Throughout February, Airlines for America and our member carriers have been celebrating Black History Month by recognizing the contributions of Black individuals who have made an impact on shaping our industry. Below are some of the stories and achievements U.S. airlines have been sharing throughout the month:


Alaska highlighted Afton Howard, Customer Service Agent and Chair of Airgroup Black Employees, Allies and Advocates (ABEA) business resource group, who expressed how she found her place at Alaska Airlines as a Black woman and is not afraid to use her voice. “I always can share how I’m feeling, what I’m feeling. But the BRG really gave me a platform to be able to use my voice for advocacy, for allyship, to be able to use it to spread joy, love, and education about the Black community,” Howard said.



American reminisced on the achievements of Captain David Harris, the first Black commercial pilot hired by the airline in 1964. Capt. Harris, along with Captain Sam Samuels, flew alongside each other in the 1980’s, marking the historic first all-Black flight crew known as the Soul Patrol. American also honored the groundbreaking achievements of Bessie Coleman and the pilots of the Tuskegee Airmen.


Atlas highlighted on their social channels why loadmaster O’Neil Hyatt loves working in aviation. “My favorite part of working in aviation is that no two days are the same…When it comes to my job, I love the challenge of figuring out how to position the Unite Load Devices (ULDs) to balance out the aircraft,” said Hyatt.


In addition to highlighting multiple team members across LinkedIn—such as Captain Anya Kearn’s story sharing her passion for aviation from a young age—Delta had several initiatives to honor Black History Month. Delta’s BOLD Business Resource Group spearheaded a series of programming including the creation of a guidebook with a curated list of Black history and culture museums and exhibitions across the country. BOLD also hosted virtual conversations on the intersection of identity and travel with Black & Abroad and Team USA’s Ashleigh Johnson that focused on identifying purpose and pursuing excellence.


FedEx highlighted multiple team members on their social channels throughout the month of February, including FedEx Captain Jovan O’Bryan. O’Bryant said, “Every year, BHM reminds me of all the greatness that our culture has contributed to the world. It inspired me to continue on that endeavor.”



In partnership with their crewmember resource group, JetBlue African Diaspora Experience (JADE), JetBlue highlighted destinations that honor Black heritage, including Atlanta, Charleston, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Barbados, Guadeloupe and Jamaica.


Additionally, JetBlue VP of Corporate Social Responsibility & DEI Icema Gibbs did an interview with CNBC to discuss the importance of celebrating Black history and contributions Black Americans have made in the world.

JetBlue VP on recognizing the contributions of Black Americans (cnbc.com)


Leaders of the Black Excellence Advancing Together (B.E.A.T.@SWA), which is Southwest’s Black Employee Resource Group, reflected on what this month means to them and showed their appreciation of being immersed in their culture. JKB, manager of operations, customer support and services at B.E.A.T.@SWA expressed how they add value at Southwest by being able to celebrate one another and lift each other up. Marques Allen, senior ops performance design consultant, shared that recognizing and weaving together Black culture and art in daily lives has made an influence all around the world.



During February, United’s MileagePlus cardmember customers are eligible to earn bonus miles for donating to non-profit partners the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the Legal Defense Fund and the UNCF. United also hosted company-wide events throughout the month with partner BEACON, their Black Business Resource Group, which promotes discussions with Black leaders at United, highlights Black business owners and creates volunteer opportunities.



This month, UPS celebrated the Black-owned small businesses they deliver to. UPS has 24 African American Business Resource Group chapters with nearly 2,500 members. UPS employees have also have collectively volunteered more than 900,000 hours toward their goal of one million hours, dedicated toward underserved Black communities. UPS even has multiple partnerships that focus on uplifting and supporting Black communities including the National Urban League, Operation Hope, UNCF and the Executive Leadership Council.

For more information on how the airline industry is contributing to a more diverse, equitable and inclusive world, visit A4A’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion page.

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