Shameful: Flight Attendants Union Head Politicizing Coronavirus

Sara Nelson is President of the AFA-CWA, flight attendants union with 50,000 members and part of the national Communications Workers of America. She’s an activist in the left wing of the Democratic Party, a Bernie Sanders supporter, and has been called ‘the most powerful flight attendant in America’ as a rising star in the labor movement.

As I pointed out on twitter at the time these aren’t selfies but they were paid for, by her members, through the Communications Workers of America.

It’s no surprise that Nelson has come out attacking the President on MSNBC over coronavirus.

Regular readers know that I’m no defender of the President or this administration, but Nelson really misses the mark.

To be sure the CDC performed poorly in the early days of the virus and the President’s public statements have seemed to understate the risk posed by COVID-19.

Nelson complains that the Obama administration made her feel important in 2014 during the scare over Ebola, and the Trump administration isn’t consulting her.

Nelson recalled to host Lawrence O’Donnell how, under Obama’s “Ebola czar” Ronald Klain, she and other industry leaders were repeatedly brought together to discuss action both on the front lines and in the U.S.

But, with the Trump White House amid the coronavirus outbreak, she said, “we can’t even talk here about what we can do in a coordinated way, with good information in this country, to be able to contain this.”

She says that the airlines are among the safest places right now, “going to the airport and getting on planes may be one of your safest public locations,” though in fact stepped up cleaning varies significantly by airline and people are in close proximity to each other except when load factors drop because people aren’t flying.

No doubt flying entails less exposure to other peoples’ germs than taking the New York subway. However most public transit riders are local while flying carries people from one region (with greater infection risk) to another (which may have less). I haven’t cancelled any trips yet, but will make calls on each based on best available information at the time.

Regardless of the helpfulness of statements by the President, responsibility for the response to coronavirus really doesn’t fall at his feet. Contrary to popular belief the Trump administration has not cut the budget of the CDC. Sadly party affiliation is a strong predictor of how serious someone believes coronavirus could get.

At this point containment still matters to slow the spread because our health care system isn’t ready to treat the number of patients who could need hospitalization in medium-risk scenarios. There aren’t enough masks. There aren’t enough ventilators. There aren’t enough beds. The last thing we need to do is politicize this. There will be plenty of time for recriminations later.

To be sure coronavirus fears may already be pushing the U.S. into recession, which may advantage the democratic challenger in November. Anyone who pushes political narratives around the virus at this point, though, is doing a disservice to the country. And Nelson is doing a disservice to her members.

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. Pretty fair to criticize trump for not doing enough when he’s golfing in Florida and saying everything is perfect.

  2. In this instance, attacking the president over the delusional absurdity that constitutes his COVID-19 statements and policy isn’t political, it’s observational. Were someone standing on the corner spouting this nonsense, you’s cross the street.

  3. Yeah, a pretty common sense and non-controversial statement that you apparently agree with in the most part.

    I just wish the administration would stop contradicting the experts.

  4. Regardless of where you stand politically, it should gall anyone to see Trump sequestered away in Palm Beach this weekend, playing golf and enjoying himself, while the rest of us peons are waiting, and waiting, and waiting for our President to tell us, what the heck is being done to protect us, our economy, and our system of government?

  5. ‘ Trump claims “natural ability” when it comes to the coronavirus. He also says he could be a research scientist. ‘

    ‘ Amazing to watch people suck up to such a buffoon in so many areas including his handling of the coronavirus ‘

    And that’s your Commander In Chief

  6. Shameful: What the author should feel about chastising someone for asking our politicians to get their head out of the sand.

  7. Trump has repeatedly tried to slash the CDC budget. His National Security Adviser disbanded the NSC office in charge of dealing with pandemics. Trump has suggested this all could be over by April and that a vaccine could be developed quickly. And he’s made a host of other statements misleading the general public and contradicting CDC and other medical authorities. The common thread is that he’s viewed this crisis through the lens of his own political interest rather than the public’s health. He’s the one who’s politicized this.

    Nelson’s MSNBC appearance wasn’t perfect in terms of her claims about airport and airline safety. But on balance she did the country a service by highlighting Trump’s self-centered mishandling of the situation, something we may well pay a big price for.

  8. I disagree with faulting anyone who would use their status to highlight the reality that our crisis is compounded by incompetence of the Executive branch. And, it is well documented that the CDC and NIH have been completely defanged by Trump. Yes, the time for recriminations should come later, but their is never an inappropriate time to speak up and correct the flow of misinformation.

  9. I love it, I just got done telling my brother the MSM and dumbocrats will try and pin this on Trump. They failed with Russiagate, impeachment, Ukrainegate and will now attempt Coronavirusgate. What a sad bunch.

  10. Seeing everyone pointing out obvious makes me having faith in humanity. You can spin politics, but you can never spin virus. As much as I hope everything is okay, situation in US is bounded to go downhill from here. Jokes on you, thought leader.

  11. Gary – this is a tremendously bad take on your part.

    Fact is the President is mishandling this just like she says. He’s on camera contradicting the NIH, CDC, and HHS experts and lying about the availability of tests and claiming the virus is contained. Just today the White House overruled public health officials’ recommendations to tell elderly at risk populations not to fly.

    If we can’t call him out on that because is “political” – then we are in more trouble than we now. He showed up at the CDC wearing a bloody campaign hat, for heaven’s sake…

  12. Trump: “.. people get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work — some of them go to work, but they get better.”

    Great advice from our moron-in-chief.

  13. I have enjoyed reading many of your aviation related articles in the past.
    A preponderance of evidence would indicate that you have issues with someone speaking out.

  14. I see all of these Trump-hating folks post on the article, and I can’t help but think: I will never ever EVER vote Democrat… Ever.

    You Democrats keep calling the President names for being a “moron” when you Crats come up with moronic policies like allowing illegals to vote and/or get “free” health care, open borders, letting homeless p00p anywhere while ignoring the wants to the residents, the concept of “MMT” (aka infinite money printing), removing CO2 from the earth, enforcing political correctness (by the extreme vocal minority), promoting violence against those that oppose your viewpoints (e.g. – MAGA hat wearers), paying for all college loans (while screwing over the ones that did pay them off), and on and on and….

    The bottom line is – for you posters that hate Trump, I say this: Your arrogance is exactly why Trump will in November (regardless of how much bluster he states). You keep thinking the US wants to be run like the cities of SF, LA, NYC, when it reality it is not what most people want.

    Meanwhile, you Crats keep thinking that the gov’t could save us and Trump can do more, but in reality – is there really a blueprint on what to do for the Coronavirus (aka a man-made Chinese bioweapon)? If the Crats had their way, they’d emulate China and literally beat down anyone who doesn’t follow quarantine while shutting down their industries (which is causing a lot of economic pain over there right now. Oh, btw – if anyone thinks if the CCP is handling Coronavirus better than the US, your IQ is a lot lower then you think.) That said, Trump obviously doesn’t want to copy the China playbook, but does he (or any government leader) have a plan that will save the economy while minimizing the impact of the virus? No he does not, and neither does anyone one else. So you Crats who keep criticizing Trump for his handling of Coronavirus: I assure you, Obama was every bit as clueless when Ebola hit, except he dodged a huge bullet because American companies don’t have as large of business interest in Africa like they do in China.

    Bottom line: Stop depending on the government to save your ar_se and take your own precautions. Anyone who puts their hope in the government has no life worth hoping for. It’s hard to take these never-Trumpers seriously because they will never give him due for what he has done right the past 3.5 years, despite his mistakes or things he needs to improve on. After all, if Trump did admit that the Coronavirus is brutal and everyone should panic, the first article on the Washing ton Post would be “Why didn’t Trump warn us sooner?” (or some other typical headline a Democrat-run MSM website/newspaper would run).

  15. I NEVER comment, nor care to read comments normally as social media has eaten advanced Western nations brains, but Gary ….. I had to read this time :(((. And you are so wrong and your reader comments are so right. This administration is shameful on their Covid-19 response and this president is beyond shameful, just an ignorant, ignorant narcissist. He, them, his enablers will go down as the MOST horrific presidency in the history of the US period. They are so embarrassing ….. and dangerous.

  16. You are shooting the messenger. She is completely correct. Why on earth would anyone have faith in the maniacal ramblings of the clueless orange blob , or his nutty ‘power of prayer’ lapdog?
    Where are those posters from last week, ie, the ones offering assurances that the USA was going to be just fine because it has the best healthcare administration in the world? It has been a particularly inauspicious start.

  17. Anyone who flies will NOT see trays, seat belts, overhead light buttons, window shades and just about every other surface wiped down by cleaning crews on AA flights. I bring my own clorox wipes and been doing this for years. Because of AA “on time departure” cleaning crews barely have time to do anything.
    This person who is head of union is blustering and a wanna be star.

  18. Gary,

    This is one of your worst takes ever. Regardless of the historical questions about CDC funding, it is abundantly clear that the White House is subordinating a coherent national public health response to partisan interests- they weigh everything they’re doing in response to the virus on the basis of whether it helps Trump’s re-election campaign, not public health.

  19. Gary,

    I’ll weigh in again on this to second Red’s very sound sentiments. I urge you to revise your evaluation of what Trump’s doing. By not strongly condemning his statements and actions in your post, and instead attacking the messenger (Sara Nelson), you’re in your own small way perpetuating his disinformation. It’s his conduct that’s shameful, not hers.

  20. I don’t subscribe to View from the Wing for political commentary. Stick to travel issues and spout off about your politics elsewhere. If you don’t, you’ve lost this reader and I’m sure others.

  21. James N and John L must pick up their talking points at KKK meetings or amongst thier Pussy Grabbing friends. And you John Leff will not doubt cast your vote for the man locking children up in cages

  22. “What you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

  23. Boy, are you off the mark here. You are promoting ideology and disinformation.
    How you can speak one word in defense of this rumor spinning anti-science bigot who has dismantled those government organizations specifically put in place to handle epidemics exactly such as this is incredible. I shall happily leave now and not return, plenty of other more credible sites to get travel information at. Save your “who cares” and “good riddance” comments, folks, I’ll never see them.


  24. Trump has done a great job so far in being honest with the public about the danger but not exaggerating. This is not a healthcare issue or CDC issue or NIH issue. The latter two organizations have plenty of funding and essentially are unlimited in this crisis (the 8 billion can easily be raised). The issue is a travel issue where flights out of East Asia were not stopped the same time as China. Italy flights aren’t even stopped, just Milan. The spread of the virus can easily be stopped if people decided to forgo plane travel, cruise travel and practiced precautions going to work and to the supermarket by wearing a mask, not standing near people and disinfecting their hands. But we have people paying dirt cheap to go on cruises and people who are not adjusting their lives in any way. There is nothing more the federal government can do but to respond to cases that pop up.

  25. And communist leaning Crazy Bernie and Slo-Mo Joe have all the solutions! I’ll rely on the actions of a person very successful track record in the real world to any left wing politician with no experience outside of government.

  26. She has every right to criticize Trump who is anti-union and totally botching the response to Coronavirus. You don’t hide your obvious anti-union bias very well (been following you since 2006 or so ). Trump put Pence in charge, what a joke. How about someone with experience dealing with pandemics/epidemiology.

  27. Most of the commenters on here are very shameful for playing politics. These are the same people who repeat their hate and ignorance by attacking sound policies of the Trump administration including immigration. No matter what he does they will always name call and deride him. Trump has done a very good job of responding to this virus. Unless he were to have shut travel down there is nothing he really can do but wait to respond to the cases that pop up. In 2018 the Trump administration reduced funding for excess bureaucracy in the form of a CDC response team that sat idle wasting tax payer dollars. The CDC response is no way affected as they already receive billions of dollars in funding each year and are easily mobilized. The problem is not the CDC or tests but the incubation period being 14 days. To blame Trump for a 14 day incubation period is pure politics. Hopefully voters in swing states see through the nonsense. The people who are responsible for this pandemic are the same people who are cavalier by going on cruise ships which are breeding grounds for the virus. But they won’t alter their travel plans.

  28. @John L, dot, and Cool Breeze +1.

    The hate coming from the left wing commentators is palatable. As we learned from the original Star Wars, hate is the way to the dark side. These Trump hating people are three fourths the way to the dark side. God help the USA if these anti-American tyrannical creeps every actual control the levers of power in the USA. They will try to control everything, include what we eat, what we can own, what we can say, what we can think, and so forth.

    To quote Reagan: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

  29. Well Gary, ‘foremost in your own mind’, you have finally done it. Notwithstanding your long-term colossal arrogance, you have decided to turn your blog into a forum for political rants. You can take your pathetic blog and put it where the sun doesn’t shine. AMF!

  30. Gary: Aren’t there at least two undermining flaws in your report? (1) You write that our president isn’t responsible for our inadequate readiness with regard to coronavirus, but don’t you believe that the buck stops there? If there were evidence that our president had been pushing for readiness but his staff dropped the ball and he hadn’t yet had time to correct their mistakes that’d be one thing, but do you see evidence of that?. (See,, and In 2018, the Trump administration eliminated the Global health security and biological threats directorate that was responsible for coordinating our government’s response to pandemics. If then our response to coronavirus seems disorganized and slow compared to other countries, why is it unfair and political to criticize the administration for eliminating the directorate whose mission it was to organize and speed our response to pandemics? And why would you write it is shameful of the flight attendants’ union to point out that this administration has not coordinated its pandemic response with the flight attendants? Would it not be better if the administration were providing guidance to flight attendants and others on the front line in encountering coronavirus carriers?
    (2) Do you stand by your suggestion that because Congress reversed the Trump Administration’s attempt to cut the CDC budget that therefore the administration should not be criticized as for proposing those cuts? Is it a strained analogy to point out that attempted murder is a crime even if the attempt failed? As many more lives stand in a pandemic compared to a run-of-the-mill murder, perhaps the analogy is not so strained after all.

  31. Bye Felicia. Shitty blog anyway. Rehashed news from elsewhere. Truth told the writing is horrible.

  32. I think its you that’s missed the mark. You seem a rational kind of guy by your previous articles/posts and suggest you back and read through what you’ve written. It’s emotionally driven and lacks any sort of proper critique or valid point. You should be ashamed of yourself for writing such an article and I will stop reading your posts from now on.

  33. Only 2 possibilities I can see here. Gary is aiming for clicks, or angling to be head of the FAA under Trump.

  34. I like you Gary, but many of your takes, ranging from your head in the sand view on the MAX to this one have been pretty poor over the past year or so

  35. Wow. Talk about politizing a virus ! And the comments.. I am a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist who enjoys being a flight attendant for a “major US ailrine”. I fly international trips 2-4 times a month. SO…wow, This administration is uniquely a mess and had been since day one. The response and lack thereof on COVID-19 is breathtaking.
    Mr. Leff, you seem to be very upset that a Flight Attendant/Union Shop Steward has something to say and participates in political process. You have pointed out nothing significant in your opinion except that you are a trump supporter. Wow. And the point is…. ?

  36. Trump politicized COVID-19 (not the coronavirus, he doesn’t even know what it is and that there are 5 different strains out there).

    Shameful of you to politicize the flight attendants factual rreaction to an imbecile response by the administration.

  37. Someone really likes Sara Nelson in a way — enough to plaster her face on this blog entry when they were hoping she would fit in better with the “Fox News” talking heads.

  38. I have never disagreed so much with anything you’ve written. As a scientist and MD the mistakes/misinformation that the admin has caused is unbelievable!
    Putting non-scietists/MD in charge of making health decisions, lack of planning for adequate test kits and allowing prompt approval of local test kit production, lying about basic facts, over ruling the CDC to put infected US citizens on a plane with uninfected ones (and lying to them about it), the list goes on.
    People need real, science based information not “everything is perfect/amazing/the best”
    Anyone who uses whatever connections they have to try to call out someone who is failing to do this and gagging the experts (all communications about covid have to go through Pence) has my approval!!!

  39. Boy oh Boy!…a lot of clueless Trump haters here…typical liberal morons! I better get out or I might catch whatever you fools have that is even more dangerous that Corona….idiots!!!~

  40. I think Sara Nelson is doing an excellent job defending the interests of her union’s members. Gary Leff’s criticism of Sara is badly misplaced. It reminds me of when he foolishly criticized AOC for opposing the idiotic plan to upgrade ground transportation between LGA and NYC.

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