Delta Reverses Course, Condemns Georgia Voting Law They Helped Write

Delta Air Lines told employees they helped write Georgia’s new voting law. They dug in deeper defending their position that they ‘made the bill better’ and refused to criticize it.

Facing online and media controversy, and a supposed-consumer boycott, they’ve now reversed course. After first congratulating themselves on it, and then refusing to criticize it, CEO Ed Bastian now says it’s abhorrent.

As I wrote earlier, though,

My question is this: what is a government-subsidized airline, now part-owned by the federal government (each round of bailouts required surrendering warrants), doing tinkering with laws about how people can vote and when? If they can influence the outcome of elections, of course, they can better position themselves for further largesse.

Delta has already angered left of center voters defending the law, now they’re angering right of center voters by condemning it. They probably shouldn’t have been lobbying on it in the first place.

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. Confederate National Airlines or Delta is again showing their true colors, is that a rebel flag painted on their tail?

  2. Thanks for tracking this, Gary. Weak leadership on the part of Ed Bastian on this issue and a perhaps fatal blow to the image of Delta as a values-led company he has tried to create. I’ll disagree on your take on the propriety of their involvement in the development of the legislation. Companies lobby like crazy all the time not just to legislators, but to regulators to shape market rules and regulation to benefit them at the expense of consumers. I don’t see a qualitative difference in Delta working on a voting rights bill than it working on climate-related legislation or conflict of interest rules for senior management of the FAA. I don’t like any of these legislative or political efforts and wold rather see the companies live their beliefs in practices that reflect the values they want customers and the public to know about.

  3. Delta needs to stay the F out of issues such as this. Whatever they say about it is going to royally piss off one side or the other. In today’s case, me. Perhaps they’d like to make statements regarding every other country they fly to and how all of them require an ID to vote (and many require your fingerprint too). It’s all a pile of crap.

    As for Delta: you’re an airline, not a political action group, concentrate on that and STFU about politics!.

  4. When Delta has a chance to speak up, they miss the White House meetings!

    They should speak up about President Biden’s tax increases for infrastructure with some social programs hidden within the proposal. Yes or no? Also speak up against or for what the People’s Republic of China is doing! While they are at is, take a side in the EU versus UK vaccine export dispute.

  5. Good. I was about to boycott Delta over this issue (and I am a Delta medallion). No doubt their black/minority employees spoke up and said this was a redline for them.

  6. This is a secret ploy to have a new enhancement. Delta will stop food and water service, even in business class and domestic first class in order to possibly give water to voters in Georgia.

  7. What a bunch of spineless morons.

    This is EXACTLY why corporations should stay out of these things. No upside, huge downside.

    Now they have pissed off everyone.

  8. The story that matters from a travel perspective is that they are going to stop seat blocking on April 30 which will result in an immediate 30% increase in revenue generating capability.

  9. Sigh. Never ever bow to the Leftist twitter/media outrage mobs. These gutless CEO’s will never learn. (Until we’re ALL victims of the Leftist outrage/cancel mobs. But then it will be too late.)

  10. Delta and other companies do want to be on the right side of history…took a while but at least they realize what this rampant voter suppression by the widespread losing Republicans is trying to do. Can’t win fairly, change the rules! Truly pathetic.

  11. Even though I am a Million Miler and current Platinum Medallion member of Delta’s FF program, I was ready to quit flying them yesterday…what right should any corporation or business have to interfere with political or government policy and/or law…

    For the last several decades, my opinion has been that we should stop allowing all lobbying, curtail corporate political donations and limit maximum individual donations to a reasonable sum of maybe $2000… Wouldn’t it be nice for most of the politicians if we had spending limits on even their own money for political purposes that way we wouldn’t have only the wealthy elected! Without excessive funds, we wouldn’t have to listen to all the BS on TV for months prior to elections!! In the case of Georgia, after the elections, they quickly enacted legislation to limit voting based on what has been proven to be a Big Lie! How many times does an issue have to be litigated to prove that it was untrue:?? No significant voter fraud!! Greed and power have almost undone our nation in recent years.

    Stay out of politics DELTA!!!!! I’m still debating whether to keep being a loyal customer!

  12. I heard that Bastian was closely tied to Hillary’s pizza parlor sex ring. True or false?

  13. Seems a little too late – the horse has already left the barn. I had re-joined the Skymiles program last Fall, intending to focus on Delta flights for all my pending retirement travels, which will be extensive. But not anymore, regardless of their now-retraction. I’m going to use up my accumulated miles, and switch to another carrier. BTW…did Delta say they would cease all political donations to the Georgia politicians who promoted this GA voting abomination? I think not. Have they also ceased political donations to the Washington DC Senators and House members who voted to interfere with certifying the national election after Jan 6th? Time to take a moral stand. Just let people vote without hassle, and accept the voting results.

  14. ” Can’t win fairly, change the rules! Truly pathetic.”

    So you also don’t approve of what happend in November?

  15. @stogieguy7:
    I have voted in two countries.

    The UK has no problem with electoral fraud and currently requires neither ID nor fingerprints. The governing party wants to require ID in what is a clear attempt to suppress poorer voters (no car means no driving licence, no foreign travel means no passport). The UK has no universal state issued ID card system.

    Germany does not require fingerprints.
    As everybody, by law, is required to posses and carry a state issued ID card (as in most mainland Europe) you need to show this to vote. However that is not comparable to the US situation where there is no universal state issued ID card system.

  16. You would think that Delta would have learned from their NRA debacle, censoring gay movies, etc, etc. Companies never seem to get the memo that perhaps they should just deliver the goods paid for and otherwise STFU.

    It’s idiotic that a company, and Airline no less, would be helping write a voting bill… especially one that has nothing to do with their business. Glad to see they are once again, getting hammered by both sides.

  17. @stogieguy7 Your statement is incorrect (surprising – not). I live in the UK and we do NOT have to show ID to vote, nor do we have to be finger printed, and yes, Delta flies to the UK. So, perhaps Delta is not the only one who should shut up about such issues. Just a thought…

  18. If Delta manages to use their political heft to have the law rescinded, I’ll believe them. Otherwise it just looks like they’re spewing a bunch of BS.

  19. I keep thinking that the Georgia legislators should have learned from the experiences of other states that passed discriminatory bills and quickly felt the effects of boycotts. Even Pence got it when his anti-gay stance brought grief to Indiana’s businesses. Having worked in a state government (governor’s office through a legislative session) I saw a lot of communication between big money interests and the local senators and representatives. In fact, important bills were hashed out between legislators and others far ahead of the dramatic but meaningless speeches given during the “debates”. If that was true here then somebody really dropped the ball on not looking at the predictable consequences. But at the least Delta should have stayed out of what was definitely a no-win situation. Anyway the whole thing was done in such a brutal and ham handed manner that it’s no surprise there was push back. And making it a crime to give water to people on long hot lines was just stupid. There is no voting problem, and repeal can’t come soon enough.

  20. Delta requires people to have an ID to ride on their plane. They should have no problem with requiring the same voter security for our elections.

    A should all voters.

    And people are allowed to drink water during lines. You just can’t have a guy in an NRA shirt sponsor and hand out the water.

    So much misinformation about the law.

    Delta should stay out of it!

  21. @Tom – first, air travel ID requirements are federal not an airline rule, and no ID is required to fly. Print out your boarding pass from home, show it to get on the plane.

    And in fact no ID is required to pass through airport security, if you do not have an ID they will ask you identifying questions, but again that’s a federal government rule not an airline rule.

    Now, as for what the difference is? I do not see ID as contributing to security, but it’s necessary to validate a person’s identity if the government is going to keep a terrorist watchlist and exclude people on that list from flying. Surely your contention isn’t that Georgia’s voter law is about keeping people from blowing up polling places…?

  22. Gary

    You have a fantastic blog by the way.

    My point is that airlines (federal) want to ensure the security of knowing who is flying. I did not know they didn’t require IDs.

    I think elections should be even more secure than airports. Not because the voting sites are at risk for actual danger, but because the results of the that vote determine who our leaders are and what taxes are, and who is in charge of our national security.

    These comments are more political than “travel” but I guess when Delta takes so much federal money, and then intervenes in this local GA matter ( I know Delta is headquarter in ATL) Delta opens itself up to criticism.

    Thank you again for your blog.

    You do an amazing job analyzing offers and commenting on overall travel.

    Thank you for what you do.

  23. @John: Didn’t know that about the UK. I’m told you need an ID to vote in Canada, but would like a Canadian to confirm that. I have spent a lot of time in Latin America and even went to the polls in Costa Rica with my wife (she voted) and everyone has to show their “cedula” (national ID) and leave a fingerprint. I’ve seen this in other Central and South American countries as well.

    To this point, I have been opposed to a national ID on civil libertarian grounds. However, I am quickly becoming of the opinion that maybe all citizens should have one – and non-citizen should not. And, you should need that ID to vote. Thus, everyone who should be able to vote can do so (although 99.9% have ID anyhow because you can’t do anything else without one) and those who aren’t legit voters can’t scam their way into a ballot via motor voter laws.

  24. The original line was ” there was no voter fraud.” So now the story is ” yes there was voter fraud but it wasn’t widespread” So how much voter fraud is acceptable?

  25. @pookie: did I call out the UK specifically? No. So, they’re another outlier apparently. And also in a slim minority of nations.

    And if you know anything about the rest of the world beyond old blighty, you’d know that the ID and/or fingerprint thing is common in less developed nations. Clearly, the UK wouldn’t use an ink well. So perhaps you should limit your opinions to subjects associated with your pitiful little island of drunk soccer hooligans with bad teeth. STFU.

  26. Gary – Are you sure that ID isn’t required to fly? The TSA website literally says “You MUST show ID in order to fly.” and the whole issue of some states not having “Real ID compliant licenses” pops every every other year or so.

    My one takeaway: As people in this, and the other thread go on about “voting with their wallets” – I keep thinking about how little choice some of us have. I’m in New Jersey, and fly primarily out of Newark. If the CEO of United came out with a press release tomorrow and stated “We love Hitler. He was really great. Also… we are including swastikas in our official logo. Sieg Heil!” I’d probably still fly them multiple times a year. I could imagine being seated next to a Jewish person also flying them who would shrug…. “26 hour layover with another airline, or arrive in 2 hours.” – I imagine Delta in Atlanta don’t have THAT much of a monopoly, but my few times flying out of there – They seemed pretty hard to avoid.

  27. @Mike – by my count, +7MM popular votes and +74 EVs is a pretty convincing win…though in MAGA land y’all are too ignorant and stupid to face facts, thus -> voter suppression

  28. @stogieguy7 – where’s all the voter fraud out there that justifies the ID change? ID mandatory *sounds nice* until you acknowledge it heavily impacts people voting Democratic, and oh yeah, voter fraud isn’t really a thing. Feel free to show your evidence.

  29. Biden is President because of around 40 thousand votes spread across three states.

    There is tremendous incentive for both sides to cheat when elections are so close.

    Likewise in 2016 Trump beat Hillary by around 100k votes (not sure exact number) in a few states.

    One would thing highly secure ID, one vote one person, and no deceased voting would be something all parties not to mention Delta would agree on.

    Long term it is very dangerous for a country to lose faith in the security of elections because elections are the only safe way we have of settling contentious political disputes.

  30. @Tom – “the country” is not losing faith…the President told The Big Lie that you and others on the Right believe like lemmings (again – zero evidence proving it…where are all the “dead voters” exactly?), and ergo, Republicans introduce ~250 bills in 43 states that ultimately try to keep people from voting. Just come out and own it and say “Our policies have failed and this is the only way for us to keep winning off of a minority base”.

  31. @Tom – UA-NYC is correct: this past election was incredibly secure but the party that lost the White House didn’t like the results and has decided to stack the deck for future elections through voter suppression. If you disagree, then answer me this: If the election results were not secure, why would every secretary of state – regardless of political party – for every single state aver that their results were correct and secure?

  32. A little late to the party, but good for Ed and Delta to take the only reasonable and moral stand on this.

    Anyone with a public megaphone should be doing everything they can to drive awareness of this racist voter suppression legislation which unfortunately is infecting statehouses across the country.

  33. The underlying assumption that opponents of the bill seem to have is that to require voter ID is racist.

    I think this is a sad and racial idea to suggest certain groups of people aren’t capable of getting an ID.

    As far as Christian said, I think the sec of state certified because they saw no concrete evidence of fraud they would assert to.

    This bill is about election security, not who won in 2020.

  34. @Tom
    And, as everybody kept saying, where is the evidence that the election wasn’t secure?

  35. Stan

    There is no point in discussing the last election.

    Biden won pretty much all the court cases. He was certified everywhere and in the US Congress.

    For me, I think voter ID, which we already have in GA for in person voting should be extended to mail voting. So voters are treated the same security wise whether they vote in person or mail. The GA law does this by treating voters the same by requiring the same ID.

    To have some voters required to present ID, like all voters in GA have to when they vote in person, but to let others skip this requirement to me is not treating voters the same. This raises equal protection issues under the constitution 14th amendment.

    So I’m glad as a GA resident that GA moved to equality in requiring the same level of voter security regardless of how you choose to vote.

    I’ve yet to here one person claim how this law makes them unable to vote. Because everyone can vote. Everyone who cares should vote.

  36. @rjb – Percentage of voter fraud in the U.S. is .00002%. And even those were mostly Republicans.

  37. Honestly, if liberals didn’t cheat elections, would they really be that worried about voter ID or mail in ballot laws? Seriously does anyone really think the probably less than 1% of population that does not have any form of ID or government document even voted anyways?? How is voter ID even controversial? The outrage on the left to strengthening voting makes me even more skeptical of previous elections.

  38. @mark said: “Honestly, if liberals didn’t cheat elections, would they really be that worried about voter ID or mail in ballot laws?”

    Mark that is not how the constitution works. The RIGHT to vote is one of the cornerstones of our democratic republic.

    Voting is a right. IDs are not a constitutional requirement.

    The reason that liberals fight so hard is that we oppose the continued drift toward an oligarchy that tend to be fueled by those with conservative views.

    Look at what you wrote… you were very quick to disenfranchise 1% of Americans. That could be 15,000 Voters you just chose to eliminate on a whim, because to you, they don’t matter.

    So yes. Liberals fight. Liberals fight for YOUR rights, even though you may not recognize how critically important that is.

  39. @Zebraitis: Actually, you may have misinterpreted what the Constitution actually says about voting. Or you got your info from CNN. It doesn’t say any of those things. What it does say is that the State Legislature of the “Several States” shall determine how electors are chosen. In other words, each state’s voting laws are to be determined by their own state legislatures. That’s what Georgia reaffirmed this past week. For the last election, it was liberal activitsts and an activist state attorney general that determined how the vote was to be conducted (mail in, COVID, etc.) and that was not constitutional.

  40. @Geff, You are not getting the point here. When the airlines are coming out and putting a statement against the state government, why are airlines not opposing the federal government rules of ID?

  41. You need an ID to check into a hotel room and to go to the Doctor, but not to vote ? Ridiculous…

    How about subsidizing ID’s ?

    Hi wins ones like improved by being able to vote not being able to open a bank account. That last sentence I wrote is in itself racist.

  42. How do you improve someone life by allowing them to vote but not allowing them a bank account ?

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