Delta, that is!
I’m sitting in the Hollywood-Ft. Lauderdale passenger terminal waiting to board my Allegiant flight to Knoxville, Tennessee. This flight will be my first one in almost 18 months. Given my travel history, this flying hiatus will be my longest in over 40 years.
And yes, this momentous flight will be to Knoxville, not Tokyo or London or San Francisco. And, on Allegiant, the airline that charges you $5 to issue a boarding pass and $3 for water (and not just when they’re flying over Georgia – more on that in a bit).
Why did I choose Knoxville and Allegiant on my first return to the air in a year-and-a-half? Knoxville, easy – family. Allegiant, because they’re the only airline offering non-stop flights between FLL and TYS.
Of course, I could have chosen a more recongnizable carrier to make the flight. And, if I did the most obvious, direct and quickest would have been Delta, which would have required only quick 45 minute change of planes in Atlanta.
Ah, but there’s the rub – Delta!
By now I’m sure you’re aware of the egregious voter suppression law passed by the Georgia legislature and then signed by Governor Brian Kemp in world record time. In fact, I wrote about this sham of a law a few days ago in a post I called, “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia.” https://around-the-block.com/2021/03/27/the-night-the-lights-went-out-in-georgia/.
Since that law was enacted it has faced a groundswell of opposition. And along with opposition to the law, there have been major campaigns to boycott some of the most important Georgia-based corporations in the hope that these powerful companies could pressure the Republican governor and GOP dominated legislature to repeal the law.
While Georgia is home to companies like UPS, Aflac, Home Depot, Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, it has been Coca-Cola and Delta that have been subject to most of the backlash.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “Social media posts carrying the hashtags #BoycottDelta, #BoycottDeltaAirlines and #BoycottCocaCola proliferated on Twitter as critics of the Republican-backed legislation accused the two Atlanta-based companies of not having done enough to stop its passage.” The AJC went on to report that over the weekend, #BoycottDelta was one of the top trending hashtags on Twitter.
Why is #BoycottDelta being out tweeted by the others?
Because the airline’s CEO, Ed Bastian issued a statement to employees last Friday saying the bill had “improved considerably during the legislative process” and noted some elements for praise.
In Friday’s statement, Bastian said Delta “engaged extensively” with Republicans and Democrats in the state to “express our strong view that Georgia must have a fair and secure election process, with broad voter participation and equal access to the polls.”
Bastian highlighted some elements of the bill, including expanded weekend voting, the authorization of drop boxes for all counties and the ability of poll workers to work across county lines.
“Nonetheless, we understand concerns remain over other provisions in the legislation, and there continues to be work ahead in this important effort,” the statement said. “We are committed to continuing to listen to our people and our communities, and engage with leaders from both parties to ensure every eligible employee and Georgia voter can exercise their right to vote.”
“Improved significantly?” What, did the original bill not only ban water from the voter lines, but make voters stand on one-leg while waiting to vote? Or, did the original language not just empower the state to take over local elections but throw out every third Democratic ballot?
The bigger question is why did Delta “engage extensively” in this process. And, if they did, how did they let this travesty of a law get passed without more pushback? Sure, their “concerns” about some “provisions” of the law are nice to hear, but those concerns are a little late. It’s law Mr. Bastian. And, as I’m sure you, as the outstanding citizen you are, recognize that “laws are laws.”
I guess Delta should be given some credit for their updated statement, issued today, that repudiates their original praise, saying in another Bastian memo to employees that the law was “unacceptable” and “based on a lie” of widespread fraud in last November’s election.
As the AJC reported, “Bastian said the new voting restrictions will make it harder for underrepresented voters, particularly Black voters, to exercise their constitutional right to elect representatives in the state.”
“’I need to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values,’ Bastian wrote.”
Why did it take the threat of a boycott to come clean. Did Bastian finally read the law? Because nothing changed. Nothing but the #BoycottDelta campaign and the fear of passenger defection, loss of revenue and bottom erosion? Is that the only thing that moves them to do the right thing?
Well, Mr. Bastian, you might still have some things to worry about. As the AJC also reported today:
“Several Republican legislators said they expect Delta to face retribution for its stance, though it was not immediately clear how that would play out.”
And, in a classic example of “he said, he said, the esteemed Georgia governor, Brian Kemp, said he was blindsided by Delta’s position, saying that at “no point” did the airline raise objections with his office about some of the controversial provisions in the measure before he signed it into law.
With that, I ask, where is that great TV show “To Tell the Truth” when we need it? Because, somebody isn’t.