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Delta CEO Bans Passenger for Abusive Pro-Trump Rant

In a rare personal intervention by a CEO, the head of one of America’s biggest airlines has banned an abusive passenger for life, while admitting the company erred by allowing him to stay on a flight.

Earlier this month, a man on Delta flight 248 from Atlanta to Allentown loudly and aggressively started ranting about Donald Trump in the aisle while stunned and possibly frightened passengers awkwardly looked on.

“We got some Hillary bitches on here? C’mon baby. Trump!”, the passenger exclaimed. The full tirade was captured by a fellow passenger on video.

As well as permanently banning the man, Delta CEO Ed Bastian on Monday pledged in an internal staff memo to offer the other passengers a full refund.

“If our colleagues had witnessed firsthand what was shown in the video, there is no question they would have removed him from the aircraft.

CEOs of all companies are having to tread a difficult line between respecting that almost half of their staff potentially voted for Trump, while rejecting some of the president-elect’s more incendiary remarks about women and racial minorities on the campaign trail.

But airline CEOs are perhaps under more pressure to respond to offensive behavior, given their responsibility to ensure customer safety. Delta on Saturday issued a statement apologizing to passengers, but the airline was still criticized by many people on social media for allowing the man to stay on board.

Some critics pointed out that people had immediately been removed from other U.S. aircraft simply due to racial profiling. “If this idiot was yelling exactly the same thing in Arabic or Farsi, he would have been arrested,” one person posted on Twitter.

It was at this point that Bastian took ownership of the situation by issuing the memo, which was also made publicly available on Delta’s website. In it, he said the flight’s cabin crew hadn’t actually witnessed the tirade in full.

“After questioning the customer, our team members made the best decision they could given the information they had and allowed him to remain on the flight,” he wrote. “However, if our colleagues had witnessed firsthand what was shown in the video, there is no question they would have removed him from the aircraft.”

The video of the incident, which was originally uploaded to a Twitter account, can be viewed here.

About Ross Kelly

Ross Kelly
Ross Kelly is a London-based business journalist. He has been a staff correspondent or editor at The Wall Street Journal, Yahoo Finance and the Australian Associated Press.