First Airline Makes A Statement After Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade

Airlines scrupulously avoided speaking out on abortion after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was leaked – despite taking positions on issues like voting reform, affirmative action, and gun control.

However now that the Court’s decision has been published, Alaska Airlines has become the first U.S. carrier to put out a statement. While a bit mealy mouthed, it highlights the airline’s willingness to cover travel costs to get an abortion.

[W]e will continue, just as we always have, to provide employees with extensive benefits to support your health and well-being, no matter where you live. This includes reimbursing travel for certain medical procedures and treatments if they are not available where you live.

It’s odd for the airline to put out this supposedly employee-focused communication in their public newsroom (so it’s meant for media consumption). And odd for the airline’s focus to be on their employees.

  • Abortion rights are not under threat in the states where Alaska Airlines operates hubs. Alaska’s constitution has been explicitly read to protect abortion, and it will remain legal in Washington State and California.

  • Airline employees can travel more easily than most if necessary.

By putting this out as a public statement they’re signaling publicly in response to the news. But they don’t actually take a clear position on the decision, because their customers as well as employees are divided on the issue.

Restrictions on abortion are complicated because the harder it becomes to obtain an abortion the more costly and time-consuming. A restriction at 15 weeks (at issue in Dobbs) will push some abortions out later, the opposite of what pro-choice advocates would want.

Personally I find abortion to be a difficult issue. Because of my own uncertainty I’m reluctant to codify one answer in law. Legally-speaking the opinion in Roe vs. Wade never seemed strong. Stronger, it seems, would be a robust 9th amendment jurisprudence (which only Justice Gorsuch seems remotely interested in).

Indeed, Justice Alito writes as justification for overturning Roe.

the Constitution makes no mention of abortion.

But the Constitution’s 9th amendment literally reads “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

While unsatisfying to activists, the formulation that seems to match where most people are remains ‘safe, legal and rare.’ Every company is different but given the passion on both sides, and that the passionate sides diverge from where most people are, this seems like an issue most companies will try their best to avoid (they have employees and customers on both sides and the country is generally divided, far from the extremes of activists on both sides) and will stumble on when forced to address.

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. Businesses really need to abstain from such political issues or they risk alienating half of their customers. Just fly the damn planes and leave politics alone.

  2. Such an ignorant comment as said by a white man of privilege. I applaud anyone who takes sides more than one “sitting on the fence” like you.

  3. Alaska would have done even better circulating this employee-focused policy internally, waiting for it to get leaked, even “leaked accidentally”. I infer that they do not want to opine on general policy here.

  4. Why not provide free travel for anyone who needs medical services in a different place if they want to be helpful.

  5. There are no travel costs for airline employees to travel (save a hotel). Seems like virtue signaling to me.

  6. @Jaybird —> I’m sorry, was that statement directed at you? Did AS say they were going to help YOU seek medical treatment? Oh. I guess I missed that part. It’s HR telling their employees about their medical coverage in light of changes on a Federal level. Companies inform their employees about changes to their benefits all the time. Q: How is this any different? (A: it’s not.)

  7. You. Correctly note the legal reasoning was not particularly strong. Even some prominent “liberal” law professors said so decades ago. Biden will presumably now promote legislation making abortion the law of the land with perhaps some restrictions. It will be an ugly debate.

  8. “Stronger, it seems, would be a robust 9th amendment jurisprudence (which only Justice Gorsuch seems remotely interested in).”

    Remotely indeed, given how he’s enthusiastically laying the groundwork to overturn Obergefell, Loving, etc. OTOH, I’m sure Society of Sisters will remain intact, since consistency is no obstacle for an illegitimate court!

  9. UA just sent a memo to employees per newswires. they’re making the same statement as AS. FWIW Apple, Citibank, Deutsche Bank all made similar statements today.

  10. Everyone’s situation Everyone’s reasons are different. This is something between them and God. Definitely not salty politicians who are upset because they feel their gun rights are being invaded.

  11. Not sure how many employees will give up their privacy by asking their employers for this benefit.
    Agree that a more general ‘travel for medical services’ would be a better way to put it.
    However it sounds like there will be fights over interstate travel (for a woman leaving a banned state for a pro-choice state) and airlines could well be dragged into those fights.
    (PS- Women are not mentioned at all in the constitution- so therefore are any laws pertaining to women unacceptable? Should they over-rule women’s voting because women didn’t vote in Constitution times?)

  12. I was so hoping this SCOTUS decision would not spill over into my beloved travel space, but this appears to have been a forlorn hope.

  13. Once again the Supreme Court destroys it’s credibility. It’s been downhill since the 2000 stolen election. That political hill they built is a slippery slope…..

  14. “Such an ignorant comment as said by a white man of privilege.”

    @Sahe, how quickly you pulled the race card! Everything is RACIST!!

  15. Very disappointed this contentious issue was brought up on a travel site. It simply doesn’t belong here and brings no added value.

  16. @Jaybird 100% agree. @Jason B: Ever heard of an internal (key word) memo to your employees. A public statement by any corporate officer should stay away from politics and that what this is by AS! Really stupid! Make money for your shareholders and vote or run for office if you want to shoot your mouth off…Geez!

  17. You may wish to change the name to View from the Right Wing and not call it a travel and points blog any more as you insist on interjecting your political opinons and creating a divisive forum. Go for it if you want to go on Hannity, but please keep this site focused on the relevant travel-related issues and which is your readers come here (trust me, it’s not to hear your political views or anyone else’s).

  18. @jman – in a post where I object to laws regulating abortion, and suggest a constitutional right under the 9th amendment, you call me right wing? what am i missing?

  19. first,
    Gary is absolutely justified to cover AS’ statement since it was released on a public platform.
    Second, CNBC’s Leslie Joseph asked where AA and WN’s statement is – or notes the absence of comment – because of its TX HDQ. She could also have noted DL and NK since those two airlines also have HDQs in states where there is a risk if not likelihood of restrictions on abortion.
    Third, the majority of airline employees live in conservative, southern states which is more about a favorable business climate and growing economies than about politics.
    Fourth, airlines have to figure out how to what they believe they need to do for their employees but don’t need to broadcast it to the world, esp. today.
    Fifth, anyone that doubts how fractured the US is and how badly some are talking about violence against this ruling are kidding themselves, esp. if they talk about Jan 6 or any other threat to government.
    Most importantly, none of what happened today in Washington DC is going to make the current ecoomics of the US change. Anyone that wants to get fired about the abortion issue might ask themselves if their lives in entirety is better off now than it was yesterday.

  20. First thing everyone reading should remember: This is @Gary’s blog and he can write whatever the Hell wants. We have a choice whether to read them. He’s pretty honest in his headlines, you know. You don’t have to click through.
    On this specific article. I am heartily sick of corporations who want to pander to a particular segment of their customer base assuming it won’t make a difference to those of different opinions. Specifically as airlines are concerned, having taken our (Govt) money during COVID, fired all the staff the money was supposed to pay for, maybe, just shmaybe, you might concern yourselves with running all your flights than blathering about woke political issues.

  21. Businesses routinely get involved in politics in the US. When companies throw money to support the God/Guns/Greed Over People party, some complain about such company involvement while others support the companies involvement. When companies support things not fancied by the GOP zealots, then the stance on company involvement flips. Hypocrites on both sides.

  22. I’ll support the right of the free American people to have liberty on how to handle their own body over the will of the American Taliban to force rape victims to give birth to rapists children. And I’ll support companies that support their employees’ personal bodily liberty with what goes on inside a person’s own body.

    Rapists and other males are going to find themselves increasingly with an increased surtax in the form of mandatory child support payments for 18 years. And the rest of society will find a lot more unwanted children who become a burden on society she taxpayers writ large because unwanted children are unlikely to be raised properly in a way that minimizes the financial burden on taxpayers.

  23. Less fed govt interference, leave it up to the states to decide. I like it.
    This build back better is working out fantastically!

  24. This Supreme Court ruling and the reasoning in it is a vehicle for way more government interference in people’s lives.

  25. It’s really absurd when airlines or any business make statements that have nothing to do with their employees or business. Since when do companies pay for abortions? That’s distasteful. Let people pay for their own abortions.

    The good thing about this ruling is leftist women are less likely to move to red states. The bad part of this ruling is leftist women in red states are less likely to abort their children which is unhelpful to conservatives. Conservatives are dumb to support things which hurt them. Smart conservatives want less liberals being born. Banning aborting is counterproductive.

    The Supreme Court made the right move in saying abortion is not specifically a federal issue. They should have said all individuals have a right to do what they want to do their own bodies. Before we discuss abortion we should discuss drug laws, forced vaccinations, and bakers being forced to bake cakes.

  26. The Supreme Court made the wrong move in saying that there is no constitutional right to internal bodily liberty and reproductive control for impregnated females. The idea that any government, state or federal or whatever, can force a raped 11 year old girl to further risk her own body by giving birth to her rapist’s child sets humanity back to the uncivilized era where the local feudal lord or other dominant thug could have his way with raping newly married women or anyone else so as to “spread his seed” as and how such rapist wishes. Let’s just see how long it is until in one of Amy Fischer’s favorite states there is a gun-loving zealot who first goes on a rape rampage “to live eternal” by “spreading his seed” and then finishes off with a mass shooter event that may cost the serial rapist his life.

    Many a health insurance plan around the developed world pay for abortions.

  27. I thought Alaska Airlines was smarter than this. There is no upside for a company to communicate support for aborting unborn babies regardless of your opinion on this. One of the pro-abortion arguments for years has been that “women’s health” clinics are primarily open for women to get good health care but in fact, they are primarily around to make money performing abortions.

  28. but but Mr. Justice, the Constitution does not mention AR-15s either … but here we are with what has become daily massacres!

  29. Before many you folk get your knickers in a twist, you might ask yourself a simple question.

    Were the provisions for employees (such as covering travel needed for medical reasons) already in the established benefit set of employment for such companies?

    If so, corporate statements are merely confirming their existing practice in support of the health and wellbeing of their employees.

    This for example the case for Patagonia – that company will cover bail in the circumstance of peaceful and lawful protect. The benefit set already there before the latest high jinx of the Supreme Court.

    The howling about supposedly “woke” companies, etc., are just predictable dumb angst from those who cry freedom when it suits them only to shite on the rights of half the population when it doesn’t.

    What a bunch of sad hypocrites some are!

  30. @ DaninMCI

    Your opinion is not the majority opinion in the USA. Far from it. So you cannot conclude that there is no upside.

    If I inflicted my opinions on you, you’d be squealing like a sad little piggy – I’d be stripping you of any public funding for your religion, religious schools, the teaching of creationism, etc., etc., hiding under the guise of a charity. I’d have your gun removed. If you refused to be vaccinated I’d remove your access to health care entirely. If you were ever caught with a gun in an airport, I’d deny you future travel, access to a passport. I’d mandate that you collected your own solar energy, collected rainwater for grey water supply and bought an electric car. I would remove your access to social media. I would hold you accountable for abusing freedom of speech where it involved incitement or hatred.

    Only joking, mate. To make the point.

  31. @ Amy Fischer

    Assuming you aren’t just making some poorly framed big joke and totally taking the piss…

    “It’s really absurd when airlines or any business make statements that have nothing to do with their employees or business. Since when do companies pay for abortions? That’s distasteful. Let people pay for their own abortions.”

    Hmmm…don’t companies generally cover medical expenses through paying for employees’ private health insurance? Cover travel when employees to travel for health care reasons?

    It’s “distasteful” that the rights of women are being trashed (which you appear to agree with).

    “The good thing about this ruling is leftist women are less likely to move to red states. The bad part of this ruling is leftist women in red states are less likely to abort their children which is unhelpful to conservatives. Conservatives are dumb to support things which hurt them. Smart conservatives want less liberals being born. Banning aborting is counterproductive.”

    Wow. Do you have idea how lacking your statement is in any decency and humanity? That’s like saying that COVID is great because it kills the right wing covidiots who refused to be vaccinated. Weeds out the anti-science and religiously brainwashed dumb dross of the community. Yeah. Cool argument, sister. (I’m being sarcastic).

    But so sad that some in the US regard each other with such disdain and disrespect. Talk about a divided nation!

    “They should have said all individuals have a right to do what they want to do their own bodies. Before we discuss abortion we should discuss drug laws, forced vaccinations, and bakers being forced to bake cakes.”

    So you want to live in a red state, be able to take drugs when you want, avoid the community responsibility of vaccination when you want and bake cakes when you feel like it. Oh, and you don’t want anyone who you regard as “leftist” living in your community?!

    And you don’t want to win a political position by argument and reason, you want to do it through eugenics (referred breeding of non leftist women).

    Stark, raving, right wing bonkers…

  32. The 9th Amendment does not create rights that do not otherwise exist. It simply says that the Bill of Rights doesn’t grant any new powers to the federal government merely on the basis of the Bill of Rights not explicitly saying that the federal government can’t do those things. Madison himself literally said that that was what it meant. It was just pointing out that the contents of the Bill of Rights were merely either limitations on powers otherwise granted to the federal government under the Constitution or else just inserted for the sake of caution. A couple of earlier drafts of the amendment make this even more abundantly clear:

    “That those clauses which declare that Congress shall not exercise certain powers be not interpreted in any manner whatsoever to extend the powers of Congress. But that they may be construed either as making exceptions to the specified powers where this shall be the case, or otherwise as inserted merely for greater caution.”

    “The exceptions here or elsewhere in the constitution, made in favor of particular rights, shall not be so construed as to diminish the just importance of other rights retained by the people; or as to enlarge the powers delegated by the constitution; but either as actual limitations of such powers, or as inserted merely for greater caution.”

    The ruling today was that the Constitution does not contain anything that would proscribe state laws against abortion (which it obviously doesn’t.) The only possible 9th (or 10th) Amendment implication would be if the Congress tried to weigh in on the issue from a national level, as those amendments only limit federal powers, not state ones. But this case was not addressing any federal law, but rather merely reversing a legally-erroneous ban on state ones, so those amendments were not relevant here.

    Legal scholars have generally agreed since the day it happened that Roe was based on faulty reasoning, including those who would support a national right to abortion. It was just an invention of a Constitutional right out of whole cloth and overturning it was the only possible legally correct decision regardless of whether one believes such a right should exist or not.

  33. @Kalboz

    If you wish anyone to think you intelligent, please dispense with ever making that absurd argument again. The Constitution clearly says, “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” This is not limited to a particular type of arms any more than the First Amendment is limited to a particular method of communication. Saying that AR-15s weren’t around when the 2nd Amendment was passed, so it does not apply to them is an equivalent argument as saying that electronic printing presses and the Internet were not around at the time of the passing of the 1st Amendment, so it doesn’t apply to them. Or stating that Mormonism wasn’t around at the time of the passage of the 1st Amendment, so the Free Exercise clause doesn’t apply to it. It’s a plainly absurd and obviously disingenuous argument that no one actually believes. Please stop using it if you wish anyone to take your opinion seriously.

    Comparing that to the abortion decision is a silly false equivalence. There is very plainly a Constitutional right for the people to keep and bear arms (or, more specifically, a Constitutional limitation on the government barring it from preventing the people from doing so.) There is no such provision regarding abortion, nor any broader concept that would include it.

  34. When I board a plane I do not tell them how to fly nor do I tell them how to handle my baggage or how to provide excellent customer service. Alaska Air is my airline of choice … please Alasaka Air, (my airline of choice), and anyone else not in the medical field … stay in your own lane. And, FWIW, I promise to not ask my doctors about how to fly planes.

  35. If the Bill of Rights were to be taken as limiting the power of only the US federal government — as some say was the explicit design and intent at the time of those Amendments’ ratification by the states and becoming the law of the US — then states should be just as able to ban gun ownership as zealots in states are able to ban abortion under the US Constitution. But these “originalists” are only selectively and hypocritically so, just like their con-man-in-chief Lord Trump.

    The Thomas-Alito Supreme Court has muddied thinking and is not about consistency in the application of the rule of law and legal theories. The Thomas-Alito court is all about making whatever convoluted argument gets them their previously desired outcome regardless of the circumstances.

  36. Señor Leff has never stuck to keeping this blog free of political discussions. Why should he start now? His site, his choice; just as much as it should be “her uterus, her choice”.

  37. Alaska Airlines has been a remarkable and even heroic corporate citizen throughout its history, but never making a big deal about it. In 1948 in the early days of commercial aviation, for example, Alaska Airlines offered its planes and volunteer crews to fly 50,000 Yemeni Jews to safety in what was then the new State of Israel over the period of over a year.

    For better or worse, healthcare in the United States is a matter of corporate concern because — thanks to the wisdom of our government — employers are almost always the vehicle through which people get health insurance. Choices like this will have to be made, whether they want to or not – and this seems perfectly sensible to me.

  38. Alaska: how about enhancing your company policy to accommodate passengers in terms of flight delays and cancellation? Would you re-book them on other airlines? :

  39. @Sahe

    What a hateful, bigoted, racist, misandrist comment!! You should be ashamed!!!

  40. The “literalists” only follow literal interpretations when it suits them. About this, the Constitution makes no mention whatsoever, about how many justices make up the Supreme Court. Time to add 6 new positions to the Supreme Court!

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