Delta No Shows Meeting With the President, Offends Trump

US airline CEOs were reported to be having a meeting with the President where they could press their case for protectionism.

Two things turned out to be very different than expected.

  1. Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker was there
  2. Delta CEO Ed Bastian didn’t show up

Delta says Bastian “had some previously scheduled travel that he was unable to reschedule” which – in the context of a meeting with the President is a polite way to say he declined to appear.

And apparently the President was offended,

For its part, the White House was upset that Delta’s CEO did not attend the session with Trump.

“The real story,” said a senior White House official, “is that Delta refused the invite. That didn’t help their cause.” The airline’s absence stuck with Trump who brought it up several times during the Oval Office session, according to a person familiar with the meeting.

At one point, Qatar Airways CEO Al Baker underscored the president’s point about Delta, noting that he had been willing to fly all the way from Qatar for the meeting, said the person familiar with the meeting.

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al-Baker with Donald and Melania Trump in 2007, via Doha News

Qatar’s CEO, of course, was just in the U.S. signing a deal for US-made jet engines alongside the President.

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. My guess is that there is a very specific reason Ed did not attend and that reason had nothing to do with “scheduled travel”. Maybe he though it would be too much of a circus of egos with both al-Baker and Trump (granted, most CEOs are well-adept at dealing with ego)?

  2. Oh please Mfb123 not attending was far worse than as you said a ” circus of egos with both slBaker and Trump” And Bastian doesn’t have one? Really I suppose some would argue that one.

    It’s all politics however it is a platform and one that you can express your views before during and certainly after outside with the camera’s rolling. The news reports also report that all the invitees were well aware of whom was invited.

    Parker and Bastian need to get over this crap and compete. Which to Delta’s credit they are improving moving away from the dismal level of AA.

    Bastian purports to be such a US supporter yet he buys AB planes and has been for years and years.

  3. The Emir of Qatar has been on a jet setting whirlwind adventure in recent weeks, so can’t say I’m surprised that QR managed to have its CEO get in too.

  4. I would assume that al-Baker stayed at the Trump Hotel in DC too. I wonder if that’s the QR crew hotel too.

  5. Qatar Airways has at least previously been a tenant of a Trump building, at least in NYC.

  6. And Qatar’s CEO has been calling Trump his friend since 2007 and to this day. The Emir of Qatar meeting Trump a few days ago and buying a lot of stuff certainly didn’t hurt QR.

  7. The Qatar CEO wasn’t supposed to be there and that is what has been reported for weeks. So, I give Bastian credit for not going. Obviously Trump was going to do something off-agenda, and Bastian wanted no part of it. Meanwhile, Trump needs take care of his Middle Eastern friends because he needs somewhere to go after his Presidency…..Trump liar, traitor, just the best example of white trash!!!

  8. Trump was offended? That isn’t really news. Everything offends Trump! He’s the biggest complainer, whiner and snowflake. The biggest bully, yet has the thinnest of skin.

  9. Libs complain when US3 meet with Prez to conspire to raise prices and stifle competition. Then when ME3 is part of the conversation to lobby their side, and one of US3 can’t take the heat, libs complain again. Your TDS has no cure. Just keep throwing your temper tantrums, maybe go start a dumpster fire and smash some windows when you don’t get your way.

  10. Let me see if I understand this: Trump doesn’t drink and obviously is no fan of hispanics, so the only white guy that hasn’t gotten multiple DUIs chose not to attend? Awkward!

  11. I took it at face value. I too have trouble getting tickets changed. The poor guy probably had a nonrefundable seat in basic economy. Gutsy move, Bastian.

  12. Maybe Bastian didn’t want to be seen meeting with such a racist wannabe tyrant mere hours after he spurred an entire arena of rednecks into chanting their hate on live television. That’s a stink his airline can do without.

    Question is, why did the rest of them show up? Anything to make a buck, eh?

  13. If Trump keeps up with this “send her back” crap, there might be many CEOs not wanting to hangout with him.

  14. Trump is offended boo boo

    Although he’s ok with offending everyone else

    He’s a narcissistic, illiterate, uncultured psychopath and troglodyte

  15. @Jay W – the entire campaign against the Gulf carriers led by Delta has been jingoistic and xenophobic so no i doubt that’s it

  16. @JayW, I think that may very well be a big part of the reason Delta passed on bowing down to Trump. The “send them/her back” theme is enormously offensive to a large portion of the population and Delta’s workforce.

    Following the president’s racist Charlottesville statements, several CEOs resigned from Trump’s business advisory council. The council subsequently disbanded.

    As Trump is now in full campaign mode for 2020 and his campaign seems committed to a strategy of energizing his base by dividing America along racial and ethnic lines, it is going to be harder for corporations to blatantly suck up to him as they have in the past.

    As this post points out, there is little threat from Air Italy so little to gain by singing Trump’s praises and potentially a lot to lose.

  17. Gary,

    I am just curious, but on your ballot for the November 2016 election for POTUS, did you vote for Hillary Clinton to be President, or did you vote for Donald Trump to be President?

    I pinched my nose and voted against Trump by voting for Clinton as POTUS. I have no regrets about that vote of mine.

  18. He probably just didn’t want to be in the same room with Racist Rump. Good for him. Rump is worse then George Wallace was

  19. Love all you whining snowflakes bashing the President. I don’t agree with his morals or style but glad to make over a million in my portfolio since his election (from under $3 million to over $4 million). Also better to have a Republican (even if Trump really isn’t one) appointing Supreme Court justices. None of the clowns running for President on the Dim side will be good for the economy. I’m an economic conservative and frankly don’t give a damn about social issues or morals so will gladly cast my vote for him again. BTW retire senior exec of 4 national companies and MENSA member so cut all the “dumb redneck” comments. Some of us vote economics and don’t care about the rest

  20. I hope he used the opportunity to lobby for some 5th freedom routes to finally get us QSuites on a trascon.

  21. I kind of love how Al Baker thrust & twisted the knife. (“I flew ALL the way from Doha. Atlanta was too much trouble?”) Delta was too busy to meet the U.S. President — that’s the message delivered.
    I find the partisan morons commenting here tiresome. We get it — you disdain the current U.S. President. But that’s who we have. And I sure saw oodles of “Clown Car” inanity on display at the recent debates.

  22. @GUWonder – my take in 2016 was similar to PJ O’Rourke’s, that Hillary Clinton was the second worst thing that could happen to this country but second by a *wide* margin, my concern was primarily long tail risk – that the President gets nuclear codes, and Trump might find them.

  23. @AJ – Maybe you should read some economics before making strange and unfounded allegations. You say that the economy does better under Republicans? Then why does the stock market do better under Democrats? As a DP, I’m neither. Stick with the childish insults. You’ll probably get better with practice.

  24. @Gary – Why did your site just get political? Why can’t you stick to talking about Airline travel? Your comments offend half your readership, and bring out the trolls on both sides. Bad Move.

  25. @Jack – it’s the airline CEOs that are working to profit politically instead of by serving customers, I’m just reporting on the effort.

  26. Gary,

    Your response to my question about whether you cast your ballot in the November 2016 election for Trump or for Clinton (or for someone else) to be POTUS deserves a prize for being a perfectly entertaining example of a response that really isn’t an answer.

    I was hoping for a straight answer to a simple question, but I wasn’t expecting it as much as I was expecting the next bank card advertisement. 😀

  27. @gary – the points guy reported on the same story differently.
    “President Trump Doesn’t Side with US Airlines During White House Meeting”.
    Your headline was
    “Delta No Shows Meeting With the President, Offends Trump”

    Your headline brings out the trolls.

  28. @Jack – TPG website summarized a day-old Business Insider piece ‘Trump sided with Qatar Airways over United, American, and Delta CEOs’

    What was striking to me was Delta no showing the meeting, so that’s what I focused on and to the extent the President was offended not being in the meeting may have been a blunder.

  29. Delta’s CEO is also buying Airbus instead of Boeing
    Not “Buy America” this time

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