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Delta CEO Denies Waging “War on Millennials” (Just Vaping and Emotional Support Peacocks)

Delta CEO Denies Waging “War on Millennials” (Just Vaping and Emotional Support Peacocks)
Jeff Edwards

Responding to headlines accusing carriers of targeting Millennials with new rules designed to keep exotic animals from traveling in the cabin of commercial flights, Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian told BuzzFeed that he does not view the increasing abuse of airline emotional support animal policies as a generational issue.

It has become nearly undeniable that the abuse of airline policies permitting passengers to bring so-called “companion animals” on flights has gotten just a bit out of hand in recent years. The nearly endless list of exotic species flyers have attempted to bring on planes includes emotional support spiders, sugar gliders, a peacock named Dexter, a turkey, pot belly pigs and hamsters, just to name a few.

An industry-wide crackdown on exotic pets masquerading as emotional support animals has helped to ease the issues associated with dubious claims that an insect or a boa constrictor might be a medically necessary companion animal, but the new rules have also led to tongue-in-cheek headlines accusing airlines of a “War on Millennials.”  While there are plenty of fair criticisms of hipster culture, it doesn’t seem likely that airlines were targeting a key market demographic with recent policies against livestock in the cabin.

Now, Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian tells BuzzFeed that not only is it unfair to accuse airlines of discrimination against Millennials, he indicated that when it comes to abusing companion animal policies, no single age group is more responsible than any other.

“I don’t attribute emotional support animals to millennials,” Bastian told the news site. “I don’t find it attached to a generation because I see all sorts of people bringing their animals. Including many of my friends. It’s a great way to transport their pets.”

Far from blaming Millennials for any airline industry issues, Bastian credited the generation with changing air travel for the better. He said the “very price conscious” age group has certainly changed the way Delta does business.

“What we’re trying to do is offer products for value that people relate to,” Bastian explained. “The millennials … value experiences over goods, and we are a big beneficiary of that as we sell experiences. It’s driving a lot of our technologies and strategies.”

Although Bastian struck a welcoming tone towards Millennials in his comments to BuzzFeed, a check of the airline’s website revealed that vaping remains prohibited on Delta Air Lines flights. The carrier also maintains a strict policy against hover boards on its planes.


[Image: Flickr]

View Comments (12)


  1. sfoeuroflyer

    January 10, 2019 at 3:46 pm

    The snowflakes strike again. The whole concept of “emotional support animal” is pure sophistry. A phony claim to extract extra privileges. And I am a dog owner and dog lover, but don’t gin up phony claims to bring my dog into the cabin.

  2. DragonSoul

    January 10, 2019 at 10:38 pm

    Aren’t those complaining that Delta is targeting millennials saying that it’s millennials with the dodgy “emotional support animals”? 0_0

  3. fotographer

    January 11, 2019 at 8:02 am

    these so called “millennials” need to grow up. remember the world does not revolve around you
    try enlisting in the armed forces and fighting for your country

  4. strickerj

    January 11, 2019 at 12:46 pm

    I’m a millennial and firmly against the ESA fad. That said, I haven’t seen any data suggesting it’s disproportionately millennials abusing the loophole – anecdotes aren’t data.

    Not a fan of vaping either, FWIW. In fact, I’m not a fan of any of the pretentious hipster culture. See, we millennials aren’t all the same. 😉

  5. FlyingHighlander

    January 11, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    Apparently im a millenial, however I’m approaching 40 years old, have a 20yr career, wife, kids, mortgage.

    The only thing that needs to stop is misuse of the term millenial.

  6. Mtothe M

    January 11, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    FlyingHighlander, you and strickerj sound far too normal to be millennials…

  7. Sabai

    January 12, 2019 at 7:16 am

    Delta’s real “war” is on competition, especially the ME3.

    Bastian whines like a millennial girl when QR, EK, or EY are mentioned.

  8. Ted Moorman

    January 12, 2019 at 2:23 pm

    It is not just millennial abusers. I was on a recent ORD-ATL flight and sat in the bulkhead of our 737-9. I sat next to a woman who had not one but two ESA dogs. One was a registered service animal and the other was an ESA. They were very nice animals and I am a disabled vet so I was asking questions about how I could get my dogs onboard. She was very helpful and gave me a website where you can go to get certified, animal vests, doctors letters, etc. all for the small fee of only $99. Then she said it was great deal because her “pets” get to ride in the cabin with her and she avoids the $150 pet fee per animal, per flight. By the time we arrived in Atlanta, I hated this scammer. I know disabled vets who really need this service and she is abusing it to save a buck! It is like the people I hate who abuse handicapped parking placards. Shame on them all!!!

  9. wds17

    January 14, 2019 at 9:42 am

    Flying Highlander – you sound like a Xennial (born between 77 and 83), not a Millennial.

  10. vbscript2

    January 15, 2019 at 10:13 pm

    I’m definitely a millennial (born in ’86) and I fully support cracking down on ESAs and especially banning vaping. Anyone who thinks vaping on a plane could even possibly be remotely ok should be seated on the wing. It’s just as disgusting and bothersome to your fellow passengers as normal smoking, just with a somewhat lower probability of killing you. And that’s without even getting into the in-flight fire risk, which is one of the most dangerous possible emergencies on any airplane.

  11. drphun

    January 16, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    I want to say that millennials are not being targeted, rather no other generation would try it (where would I even get an emotional support peacock?) but in reality the ESA fraud does seem to mostly be by an older age group.

  12. mjcecil

    January 16, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    I am obviously 100% behind both “the ESA thing is out of hand” and Delta CEO’s position that “this isn’t an ageist thing, it’s because the behavior sucks and we don’t want it.” (Paraphrased, of course) However, there’s this weird statement at the end…

    “Although Bastian struck a welcoming tone towards Millennials in his comments to BuzzFeed, a check of the airline’s website revealed that vaping remains prohibited on Delta Air Lines flights. The carrier also maintains a strict policy against hover boards on its planes.”

    Neither vaping nor hoverboards are ever mentioned in the article (except in the title). So, how do they have to do with this material, and isn’t the statement implicitly ageist? (Not that it matters to me, as I’d rather be thrown off a flight than smell somebody’s giant noxious sticky-sweet cloud of fake maple odor, no matter HOW old the source was.)

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