Delta Faces Backlash After Multiple Employees Spotted With Palestine Flag Pins

A reader shared a complaint sent to Delta about a gate agent in Detroit working a flight to Atlanta who was wearing a Palestine flag pin on Wednesday.

As you know, Palestine is neither a country nor is recognized by the United States as a state.

The wearing of a Palestinian flag pin is at best political and at worst hate speech. It is seen by many Delta customers as a symbol supporting anti-Semitisim and the eradication and genocide of the Jewish people.

Just as Delta surely wouldn’t allow staff to wear a Nazi symbol or other overly political symbols on uniforms, staff should not be allowed to wear something that is unquestionably anti-Jewish, anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli.

Spain, Ireland and Norway now recognize a Palestinian State. The Catalan independence movement would like a word with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

The Biden administration backing off of support for Israel is largely a function of Michigan being a battleground state, and concerns of Muslim voters staying home. Delta has a hub in Detroit, and the city’s Dearborn suburb has the largest Muslim concentration and largest mosque in North America.

Earlier this month a Delta employee at Washington Reagan National was spotted with a Palestine pin as well.

It is possible to wear a Palestinian flag and believe you’re advocating for two states. That isn’t usually what it means. One wears the pin to represent that “from the river to the sea” that Jews will be cleansed from Israel, and the land will belong to Palestinians. At a minimum the frequency with which this message is attached to the symbol means it’s likely to be understood this way.

After JetBlue called the cops and banned a Jewish passenger who complained about a flight attendant wearing a Palestine pin, the airline updated its uniform policy to ban pins they have not approved.

Delta, on the other hand, did not speak out about their employee’s Palestine pin earlier this month when it gained attention. As with President Biden, the airline might have a problem with an important local constituency if it were to do so. JetBlue faces less of a problem with concentrations in New York, Boston, South Florida and the Caribbean.

I strongly support free speech, but companies are entitled to enforce limits at work locations and by employees during work hours. There’s a real concern with front line airline employees voicing political positions and aiming those at passengers. The issue is asymmetric speech. Gate agents have passengers removed from flights all the time based on their own judgment. A passenger expressing a contrary opinion would easily be deemed as disruptive. The power here is entirely with the employee taking a position that’s threatening to some of Delta’s customers.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I do not care if they wear an entire custome of the Palestinian long as they do their job properly and efficiently..and most of all shut their mouths and not talk about it! I do not need to hear the Palestinian tragedy blah blah..get me properly checked-in..into the lounge and finally into the plane. So fo what you are paid for! Thank You!

  2. No pins, no crosses, no nothing, except what’s required by law.

    We can’t have, nor deserve nice things.

    This whole thing, including the post and comments are just… sad.

  3. Continue wearing more and more and more of the Palestine flag pins.

    If it offends people, so be it.

  4. I am a hospital employee and I wear Palestine flags to work regularly. I have been doing so for several months now.

    The moment my hospital makes an issue out of it, I will look for a different employer. No apologies for supporting the rights of the oppressed.

  5. The day which cannot come too soon: when the supporters of Netanyahu’s war on Palestinians and the supporters of Hamas end their barbaric hatreds toward “the other” and they willingly put on joint Israel-Palestine twin flag pins without any sarcasm or trolling intended.

  6. SAS- I hope you are fired.

    Delta- fix this garbage with Palestinian flags or I take my business flights to United or American. I will not be insulted by this crap

  7. Remember the Darfur genocide that has also led to cases in the International Criminal Court? A higher proportion of Palestinians have been killed in Gaza and the West Bank since October 7th 2023 than the proportion of people in Darfur killed during the current century’s War(s) in Darfur that produced the Darfur genocide.

  8. Here is a guy who puts the current century’s genocides in perspective of what has been mentioned as a genocide by some of our officials and even by some of us posting on here over the years:

    The article is written by an American whose parents emigrated to Israel and who previously worked for US Senator Chuck Schumer of NY. He is neither an antisemite nor anti-Israel. He is a humanist with a modern historical political perspective.

  9. really? You want to review my comments- but you willing to have all those incendiary comments on your blog???

    My point is this- if Delta permits this I will take my business class seats elsewhere and I will have my employees fly other carriers.

    Seems important that they know this.

  10. “It is possible to wear a Palestinian flag and believe you’re advocating for two states. That isn’t usually what it means. One wears the pin to represent that “from the river to the sea” that Jews will be cleansed from Israel, and the land will belong to Palestinians. At a minimum the frequency with which this message is attached to the symbol means it’s likely to be understood this way.”

    @Gary you clearly live in a bubble/echo chamber where this is what you are told, what is reinforced to you, and what you then go and reinforce to others. You need to get out more, and actually engage with people.

    StopAntisemitism is not about stopping anti-semitism. It’s an account dedicated to rampant Islamophobia, doxing private individuals who support a Palestinian state, and shaming people and organizations who dare to challenge / refuse to blindly support the government of Israel and its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

  11. Again…it’s not about right or wrong. It’s about business. See the comments above from “Texas”. That’s what you risk by allowing personal “statements” within your business.

    To put it in a completely non-serious perspective: In the 90’s I worked in a Sports Bar in the NYC area. Our owner carefully ensured that when the Mets and Yankees played each other we had an equal number of staff wearing Yankee or Met jerseys. Why? Because at the end of the day he didn’t want to p*** off fans of either team. At the end of the day…it’s all about the business.

  12. The airline can easily afford to lose this Texas fellow as a customer and a lot of others. Demand is too strong for a boycott by Texas and her/his “Israel can do little/no wrong” crowd to really amount to much financially for AA either way at the current moment. [Not that it will stop the airline from pandering to the “Israel can do no/little wrong” crowd.] But while at it, maybe we can get Bill Ackman to take the charge on this and move forward the date of the policy change.

  13. “Texas” writer seems very easily offended and a supporter of “cancel culture”. Seems “woke”, eh? 😉

  14. I, unquestionably, support Israel in this matter. But I don’t think employees should wear either flag to support either entity as it’s very contentious. Pins and decorations should be limited, I think. Just do your job without making a statement that doesn’t pertain to your work or industry, or country.
    I am surprised to see so many Hamas supporting comments here.

  15. “SAS says:
    May 30, 2024 at 2:10 am
    I am a hospital employee and I wear Palestine flags to work regularly. I have been doing so for several months now.”

    Let us know what hospital to avoid would you?

    Hamas wildly overplayed their hand. Now the price is being paid. It’s on them.

  16. @J Gross, I don’t see any Hamas supporters here. I only see Human supporting ones that are calling out an atrocity against humanity. Hamas are not humans, they are scum. Palestinians are humans, and they are being butchered.

  17. I just don’t get this. If you work for me, you don’t get to wear anything remotely political in a customer-facing role. I care not whether it is something I support or not. And for those that think this is a first amendment issue, you are truely uninformed.

  18. Have we learned nothing from Disney? Or Bud Light? Distinguished commenters above aside, do we really believe people want a further intrusion of this war (incidentally, started by Hamas) into their lives? Will we then permit Biden or Trump buttons, and if not why not?

  19. I wear Palestine flag. Why should I not wear it? I protest the genocide taking place.

  20. Given how much of the medical infrastructure Israel has destroyed in Gaza and how it has been mistreating Palestinian healthcare workers, all medical workers around the world — including those in Israel — should consider standing united with their profession and professional colleagues in Gaza who are suffering like crazy under this barbaric Israeli regime. Putting on a Palestinian pin is one way to do that respectfully and lawfully at least so far. I stand with the healthcare workers of Gaza. Just like I stood with the healthcare workers of Israel who responded to October 7th with medical care for the victims of that infamous day.

    If I were a journalist I would be wearing a Palestinian pin in support of the journalists who have been deliberately targeted in the Israeli-controlled lands by the controlling military power during this barbaric campaign.

  21. GUWonder, you invent shit!
    from the holocaust encyclopedia: “”Between 2003 and 2005, an estimated 200,000 civilians died from brutal attacks, disease, and starvation in Darfur. This was the result of a campaign of violence by the Sudanese government. Two million people were displaced from their homes.””

  22. While I believe everyone privately has the right to wear whatever they choose companies need to choose whether that makes sense when dealing with public in a space where individuals are limited in their response. Delta is not a political or government operation. Their personnel should remain neutral at work.

  23. ג’פרי סטרפילד

    My comment is accurate regardless of your false characterization of what I said. Or do you not understand English properly at your advanced age and fail to understand the meaning of “proportion” and what the population figures were for Darfur in the relevant years of the genocide there during this century and what they are for Gaza?

  24. It is now to the point that wearing an Israeli flag should indicate that tens of thousands of deaths and increasing starvation of a captive population are acceptable. Wearing a Palestinian flag pin is a recognition and quiet protest against the continuing Israeli atrocities.

  25. I’m a doctor. I’m guessing some posters here wouldn’t have a problem if I wore a Nazi patch on my lab coat. And a “Defund the Police” hat. Personally, I travel or get a cup of coffee or have a meal to relax & escape from the stresses of life, not to have them thrust in my face.

  26. This is not a free speech debate. Folks here showing solidarity with the Palestinians being slaughtered would show the same solidarity with Israelis if the situation was reversed. It is solidarity with humanity. It trumps everything else. Swastika is a Western symbol anti-humanity.

  27. “ One wears the pin to represent that “from the river to the sea” that Jews will be cleansed from Israel, and the land will belong to Palestinians”

    One does? Is that why you wear one? Or are you blockading out your a** without any real idea of what it means?

  28. To all of those wearing Palestinian flags, may you rot in Hell. On more than one occasion Israel offered land for peace, but the same people complaining about Israel getting rid of hamas are the people who voted them in and welcomed them with open arms. They are also the same people who strapped bombs on 15 year olds and told them to be martyrs for allah. F–K each and every last one of them and any moron who supports them. They are getting just what they deserve. Normally I would feel bad about children dying, but their parents will only raise them with hatred of Jews and the desire to kill them all, so I have no sadness over the payback they are now getting.

  29. Marc, no one is supporting Hamas here. I urge you to rediscover your humanity.

  30. Neither the Israeli flag nor the Palestinian flag is the Nazi flag. The Nazi flag is not a flag of any state currently recognized by 100 countries or more. Whether you like it or not, both Israel and Palestine are recognized as states today by no less than 100 countries.

    Marc’s comment is a lesson in what dehumanization of “the other” is and is a window into how dehumanization of “the other” can even be used to try to justify the killing of innocent civilians and further the dehumanization process that enables further atrocities all while blaming the victims.

    Blaming Hamas for the tens of thousands of Palestinian deaths and 2+ million Palestinians displaced by the conflict in Gaza and the West Bank is like blaming Israel for the October 7th deaths, rapes, and kidnappings. It’s ridiculous to blame the victims of atrocities for the atrocities — that is unless you have an objective to dehumanize a people and are willing to justify atrocities against a civilian population when done by “the team” against “the opposition” and don’t care about being a hypocrite with the selective application of hostility to terrorism and war crimes such as ethnic cleansing and genocide.

  31. Terry should realize that the medical licensing boards should have an issue with any doctors wearing Nazi pins. The Nazis willfully engaged in medical crimes, and the professional medical licensing boards would typically have an issue with any doctors being explicitly and publicly supportive of crimes against patients under their watch.

  32. The article should be updated: “Spain, Ireland and Norway plus 143 other (over 75% of the UN member states) now recognise the Palestinian state”.

  33. I wouldn’t worry… it’s June tomorrow, time for the transgender inclusive pride flags to be rolled out.

    The unfortunate problem with freedom of speech is it applies to both what you want to say, and what you would prefer someone else not have the right to say.

    While we’re at it… I’d like to see a clarification on Taiwanese flag pins. I believe the PRC has demanded those removed from cabin crew of Taiwanese origin and been accommodated.

  34. Should simply be wearing their official form of dress for their job. No political or religious statements of any kind. Save that for off duty.

  35. @Andreas-Johann Ø Ulvestad : slippery slope. Manchukuo was recognized by nearly 20 nations; Vichy France by over forty. Government recognition is hardly the final word. There’s still right and wrong.

  36. Gary, re your comments on wearing a Palestine flag, I believe you have gone to far in your support for Israel. Wearing that flag is not, as you say, “The wearing of a Palestinian flag.. a symbol supporting anti-Semitisim and the eradication and genocide of the Jewish people…
    something that is unquestionably anti-Jewish, anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli.” Hardly! Many of us support a strong Israel and the right for Palestinians to have a independent homeland as envisioned and agreed in the Oslo Accords as well as the UN 1947 partition. This has been stiffled by many Israeli administrations, in particular by those led by Benjamin Netnyahu and encroachment by decades of settler groups.I have Jewish friends and Arab friends. You make an absolute statement that is in itself an old saw that needs to be put away. I believe Israel will never have peace until they have a peaceful and prosperous Palestinian neighbor. Gary, I admire and enjoy your insightful work and am an avid reader of your column. But these claims you continue to make are not your finest hour.

  37. @JK “Many of us support a strong Israel and the right for Palestinians to have a independent homeland as envisioned and agreed in the Oslo Accords as well as the UN 1947 partition. This has been stiffled by many Israeli administrations, in particular by those led by Benjamin Netnyahu and encroachment by decades of settler groups.”

    I wish that Palestinian Arabs had accepted the UN partition. I absolutely supported not just the Oslo Accords but Bill Clinton’s brokered deal, and thes Ehud Olmert deal offering 94% of the West Bank, with pre-1967 buffer zones split in half and a land swap of the balance from pre-1967 borders (involving land Israel acquired for its security after it was invaded).

    While Israel would exit small settlements in these areas, their own politics would not allow them to exit Gush Etzion, Ma’ale Adumim and Ariel hence the need for land swap, giving up land near Afula-Tirat Tzvi, Lachish, Har Adar, Judean desert.

    The Ehud Olmert offer, developed with the Palestinian Authority over two years, included ceding sovereignty over the holy basin in Jerusalem which includes sites of importance to Muslims, Chritians and Jews – to be jointly administered by a group of nations including the Palestinian state. And they offered an international fund for Palestinians. Palestine would have been precluded from entering into a military agreement with a government that does not recognize Israel

    Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin was assassinated for offering much less. Yet Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas rejected the deal. Hamas attacked Israel.

    And it’s those attacks which took a two-state solution off the table. How can Israeli politics support it, even if the Palestinians would agree? (And they couldn’t agree, Hamas would assassinate them for making peace with the Israelis.)

    This is all very depressing! It’s not a state of the world that I wish for! But in any of these discussions, it is dishonest if we do not add “because of Hamas.”

    The question now is ‘what do you do’ if you believe that Israel has a right to exist, including not to have terrorists who want to destroy them in their midst? How do you get to a place of Israeli security and Palestinian prosperity? We were almost there, with Clinton and the international community brokering real peace and making big investments – Gaza International Airport was just the beginning with a resort and casino planned even. Then came the Second Intifada to stop it.

    Any peace has to begin with an end to terror, with security, and then a two-state solution.

  38. We were not almost there with the Clinton Admin. The “brokered” “deal” was a sham that would make for a Palestinian bantustan arrangement with Palestinian “autonomy” effectively non-existent due to deliberately installed dependencies upon Israel.

    Clinton had gotten so fed up in 1993 and 1994 with having annoyed the “Israel can do little/no wrong” crowd that was hitting the White House switchboards like crazy — as Stephanopolous too should recall since he was the one dealing with those numbers. Thereafter, Clinton lost any interest in really pushing Israel for a sovereign Palestinian state and went the other way with trying to placate that crowd via getting closer to Israeli PMOs. Clinton never went back to really wanting to try that same thing of pushing Israeli PMOs. Instead he went for sham after sham to try to secure his political future and that of his family — he wanted to make his family into the new Kennedy family of the Democratic Party.

    The Northern Ireland-related accords were actually the honest deal making by the Clinton Admin. But that was because of George Mitchell.

    The last Clinton “brokered deal” “for the Palestinians” was a broken deal meant to scam Palestinians longer term. It was impressive with how much detail the Israeli side had managed to think things through and get put in to really screw over the Palestinians longer term with regard to a Palestinian nation-state. Clinton couldn’t have cared less. He just wanted to try to save his legacy and wish to be the next Kennedy family in terms of stature within the Democratic Party.

  39. If people are defined by their friends, keep in mind that Bill and Don the Con T-rump were buddies in the early 2000s. That speaks to character and how much he should —- not — be trusted for his declarations and actions.

  40. jns should know that the Israelis control the access of outsiders to Gaza. Israel limits or even sabotages the humanitarian aid supply efforts. Sort of the same thing with regard to getting people into Gaza.

    Even our all mighty US only was willing to try to put in a sea dock for trickling in humanitarian aid into Gaza if Israel would agree to it.

    The Biden Admin is too wimpy.

  41. @jns: Because Israel (maybe also Egypt) will shoot anyone trying to go there.

  42. @Christopher Raehl, you are, of course, joking. After the first ten or twenty thousand westerners being killed, the political price would become too high.

  43. Egypt has had a security cooperation with Israel under which Egypt has largely been doing Israel’s bidding.

    I suspect that the Netanyahu regime is playing the game of how to set up the Egyptians between being stuck as the bad guys in shooting to keep Palestinians from fleeing into Egypt from Gaza or just letting in a huge number of Palestinians in from Gaza and helping Israel to depopulate Gaza of a huge proportion of Palestinians from Gaza. Or the Egyptians doing both.

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