Premise

Delta stands accused of preventing a Georgia doctor, Pamela Gaudry from singing the national anthem to honor the casket and soldier being returned to the states on the plane. According to the passenger, the captain asked all passengers to be seated, while the deceased was escorted off by the honor guard. This was on a flight from Philly to Atlanta.

She then asked other passengers to join her in singing the national anthem to honor his sacrifice, at which point a Delta flight attendant stopped her. According to Gaudry, the attendant claimed the anthem might make other passengers uncomfortable. Who is right? Is it a Bad Passenger, or Bad Airline? Read on below!

 

Note: this is not the actual passenger.

Bad Passenger?

If she stood up, she’d not be following the flight attendant’s instructions. Additionally, asking others to join her may have been inappropriate. According to Noel Curry, a retired Delta employee, “organizing it would be contrived and it would not be genuine.” Additionally, the choice of song was inappropriate – Curry writes “it’s not the proper song to be sung…funerals are somber and should be dignified.”

 

Bad Airline?

Delta, like all United States airlines, takes great pride in supporting the “troops” and military, and are deploying the standard “we’re looking into it”. However, Gaudry said later that Delta contacted her to blame the specific flight attendant and do some future training. In a year of bad PR experiences for airlines, they have stepped up their disaster responses, to avoid a United fiasco. However, this may have swung too far to the “customers are always right” mentality.

 

Not the actual flight attendant

Delta’s statement:

“The respectful ceremony of the Delta Honor Guard is one symbol of Delta’s pledge to the men and women of the armed forces, and it represents our broad commitment to our veterans and active-duty service members. Delta does not have a policy regarding the national anthem. We have reached out to the customer and are looking into this situation.”

 

Thoughts

I think it is frankly impossible for all airlines to do trainings for all types of scenarios. I would expect passengers to know better and not cause disturbances, but I have very little faith in travelers and humanity. You would expect people to recognize that this is a somber, reflective moment, not one to break out in musical song. However, even doing it softly and privately would be fine. Asking others and intruding on their reflective, quiet time, was over the line. Worst case scenario if you sing on your own, is that you annoy the passengers near you.

 

Verdict

The Hotelion votes Bad Passenger by a clear margin. Delta overcompensated and bent over backwards to blame the attendant when they had no reason to do so. The passenger should have recognized the seriousness and gravity of the situation, to pay respects in a somber tone. Perhaps she is attention-seeking, looking to make another spectacle, like so many before her. Regardless, I feel this is pretty clear cut. It is unfortunate in this day and age of technology and social media that companies are cowering in fear of a PR nightmare. Should you disagree, I would love to hear your rational arguments.

 

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