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.