American Airlines Apologizes for "Deaf and Dumb" Note

By David Koenig
|  Monday, Mar 31, 2014  |  Updated 6:57 AM EDT
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American Airlines Apologizes for "Deaf and Dumb" Note

A deaf couple is upset over a note that an American Airlines employee attached to one of their bags, referring to the pair as "deaf and dumb."

James Moehle and Angela Huckaby were returning home to Houston from a vacation in Hawaii when one of their bags was misplaced by the airline on the last leg, from Dallas to Houston. When it was delivered later, a handwritten note attached to the bag read, "Please Text Deaf And Dumb."

Moehle's mother, Kaye Moehle, said the note was "outrageous and cruel and unnecessary."

American says a worker who is not a native English speaker scrawled the note to alert a driver to contact the couple by text message when delivering the bag.

The Fort Worth-based airline said Friday that it has apologized to Moehle and Huckaby and released the following statement 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."

That was welcome news for Kaye Moehle, who had initially demanded that the worker be fired.

"I felt hurt for my son because I know how hard he works," she told the Associated Press. He's been employed as a technician at the same heating and air conditioning company for 16 years.

On Friday, Moehle said she didn't want anyone to lose their job and that some good could come out of the situation.

"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," she said.

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