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ATW Editor's Blog

Rant guy on Delta plane is banned, but where are we going as a society?

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Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian confirmed Monday that a passenger who gave an expletive-filled rant on a Delta aircraft is banned for life from flying on the Atlanta-based airline.

The rant was videoed by another passenger. You can see it here.

Essentially, and apparently without provocation, the man stood in the aisle and yelled his support of US president-elect Donald Trump, taunting those who may have voted for Hillary Clinton to show themselves and labeling them “Hillary b****es”.

What’s extraordinary, and perhaps sadly telling of where we are going as a society, is that everyone lets him rant (including the flight crew). You can see people looking down, turning away, and they are clearly uncomfortable and perhaps afraid of potential violence. But there is no sign of anyone telling this jerk to sit down and be quiet even though his behavior is completely unacceptable in a public place, let alone on a commercial airliner. Nor is there any sight of the crew; I’m not clear how they didn’t know what was happening or why they didn’t intervene. Cabin crew, quite rightly, make it clear their primary responsibility is to ensure the safety and comfort of everyone onboard – this was clearly a case where they failed in that duty.

Delta issued a statement Nov. 26 – four days after the incident, which occurred on a flight from Atlanta to Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Here’s the statement:

"We are sorry to our customers who experienced this disruption. We have followed up with the teams involved and all agree that this customer should not have been allowed to continue on the flight. Our responsibility for ensuring all customers feel safe and comfortable with Delta includes requiring civil behavior from everyone. The behavior we see in this video does not square with our training or culture and follow up will continue so we can better ensure our employees will know they will be fully supported to make the right decisions when these issues arise."

And today, Bastian issued a memo to all Delta staff that confirmed the man “displayed behavior that was loud, rude and disrespectful to his fellow customers and that “he will never again be allowed on a Delta plane”.

Bastian said that if the crew had witnessed firsthand what was shown in the video, there was no question he would have been removed from the aircraft. He also said Delta has apologized to the customers onboard that flight and the cost of their tickets will be refunded. That’s the right thing to do and Bastian deserves credit for that.

Bastian also notes to employees changes in society that make their jobs tougher.

“The heightened tension in our society means that now more than ever we must require civility on our planes and in our facilities,” he says. “We must stay true to Delta’s core values and treat one another with dignity and respect. We also must remain committed more than ever to the safety of our customers and our crew members. We will not tolerate anything less.”

That’s good to hear.  It’s just a sad day when you have to actually remind people that civility is a requirement.

Karen Walker Karen.walker@penton.com

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