AA Apologizes For Deaf & Dumb Note On Luggage


A deaf couple received an apology from American Airlines over a note left on their luggage by an employee.

The note which was left on one of their bags said “Please Text Deaf And Dumb“.

The couple were coming home from a trip to Hawaii to Houston when one of their bags was lost. It was returned later on with a handwritten note stating the message above.

The airline had an interesting explanation for the note: the worker isn’t a native speaker and wrote the note to let the driver know to contact the couple by text when delivering the bag.

According to a statement released to NBC 5 DFW:

“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.”

So what do you think, did AA handle the situation well with their apology? I think a flight back to Hawaii would be well deserved.

Find out more in the article from NBCDFW.com HERE.

10 thoughts on “AA Apologizes For Deaf & Dumb Note On Luggage

  1. I agree with previous people. Although morally reprehensible, this is commonly how deaf and mute people are referred to in other countries. It actually derives from the British colonization of Se Asia. Aa cannot be responsible for the ignorance of an individual employee. I’m sure that wasn’t in any training manual. They did the right thing by doing training. This is a cultural incongruence we must accept and then educate.

  2. From the Oxford English Dictionary: • “offensive (Of a person) unable to speak, most typically because of congenital deafness:
    he was born deaf, dumb, and blind”.

    As someone who is somewhat fluent in Spanish as a second language, I can say that I probably don’t always use the best word in every situation. I use a word that I know that will communicate my intent. If indeed English is not that person’s primary language, then I am sure that is exactly what they were doing. As Americans, we expect everyone to speak English. Pretty self centered of us. Most of Americans don’t speak proper English!

    A simple apology was more than sufficient. People are way too sensitive.

  3. AA’s apology makes sense to me. Coming from a non-english speaking country, when I was in school I was taught that “dumb” means “mute”. This sounds like an honest mistake and requesting anything beyond an apology would be taking advantage of the situation. If AA wants to provide a nice gesture, it’s their call, but they don’t owe anything beyond an apology.

    1. Just want to point out one thing, Deaf people were referred to as mute because we do not talk when we communicate in sign language. However, for 99.9% of us, our larynx functions perfectly fine and we can speak if we chose to talk.

  4. Honestly, they did nothing wrong – using the verb Dumb for someone who is unable to speak was evolved into a slang insult over time…but the definition of that word has not changed. Instead of focusing on the NEGATIVE, these passengers and everyone else should focus on the positive….they got their bags back….and the AA employee did his/her best to ensure they got them back…….
    …this is the real world people, you’re never going to keep everyone happy with your use of the English Language, let alone someone’s interpretation of your use of that Language. I don’t believe AA should have even apologized, or risen to the enquiry…they enabled this kind of behavior to continue, and people need to act a little more like rational adults.

    1. No apology is warranted? Mute is a very negative word no matter how much you want to put it and dumb is even worse. Those who continues to educate people that Deaf people are mutes are way behind in time. I implore those who lives in countries that uses Mute or Dumb to describe Deaf people to educate your peers to refrain from saying Mute/Dumb as it is simply plain false. Just because we chose to use sign language as our primary mode of communication does not make us a mute just like an Espanol speaking person choosing to use Spanish primarily does not make that person illiterate with the English language.

      I think AA did the right thing here and nothing further is necessary except maybe deposit some miles as a gesture of goodwill if they want to do something.

  5. A flight back to Hawaii? Really?

    Have we really gotten to the point that mistakes are monetized to that extent?

    Yes, the couple, understandably, found it hurtful, but it was quite plausibly an attempt to be helpful. An unfortunate mistake. When one makes a mistake, one should give a heartfelt apology. But hurt feelings shouldn’t require reaching into a wallet. Would you feel the same if it weren’t a big airline?

  6. Points To Be Made- I agree to some extent but maybe this is really the truth to the story? If you read the NBC article you’ll see that the mother of the man involved seemed to accept the apology and didn’t want to see anyone get fired.

    In the end, I do think that AA owes this couple a little more than an apology and sensitivity training for the staff.

    Jer- Kidding- yes & no. Good intentions or not, that is a pretty awful and hurtful thing to find on your bag.

  7. a flight back to hawaii for a baggage handler putting a note on the baggage with good intentions (to try to prevent miscommunication)…? well deserved? I hope you’re kidding.

  8. I’m not giving them the benefit of doubt. I think it’s disgusting that companies try to hide behind some unsubstantial reason whether it’s true or not. Why don’t they just show some humility for a change?

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