American Airlines' "Deaf and Dumb" Note

AA noteAmerican Airlines has apologized for writing a note about a "deaf and dumb" couple. The couple vacationed in Hawaii but had their luggage lost. When they received their baggage, they saw the note shown here.

The man's mother called the note "outrageous and cruel and unnecessary." She also said, "The public hopefully has been educated a little more to know that the term 'deaf and dumb' has no place in our society, like other derogatory labeling of other good people."

In response, the airline sent this apology:

"There was no malicious intent on the part of the baggage handler. He was trying to warn the driver delivering the couple's lost bag to text them (not call them) for they are both deaf and 'mute.' But he isn't a native English speaker and a common substitute word in many cultures (obviously, going out of practice in English) is 'dumb.' AA has reached out to the family to apologize & convey there was no insult intended. The handler, along with many other employees, will undergo sensitivity training."

Video source: ABC News.

Discussion Starters:

  • What's your view of American Airlines' response? Does it adequately explain the situation?
  • We haven't seen the airlines' apology to the couple. What would be an appropriate approach and message? In other words, what media should be used, who should initiate the communication, and what should be said?