Delta Air Lines is investigating reports that one of its pilots blamed Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg for a grounded plane in an announcement to passengers.
Flights over Florida were grounded Monday due to widespread problems with an air traffic control system, according to Reuters. As the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) worked to fix the problem, “it slowed traffic into Florida airspace,” causing delays for passengers in the United States.
The ground stops followed a difficult few weeks for US passengers after a winter storm caused flight delays and cancellations across the country just days before Christmas. Southwest Airlines, one of Delta’s main competitors, spent more than a week recovering from staffing issues in the wake of the storm.
Amid frustration among staff and passengers, a pilot in Atlanta reportedly blamed the problems on Buttigieg in an announcement to passengers Monday.
His political quips didn’t go down well with everyone, however. One passenger, Stewart Lucas, called the pilot on Twitter about the politically charged comments and expressed concerns that making political statements over loudspeakers was not appropriate behavior for the employee.
“@Delta it’s not okay that the pilot of flight 2274 ATL-RSW blames @PeteButtigieg for a ground stop in Florida,” he tweeted. “Completely unacceptable political dig just twice at gate over loudspeaker.”
Details of what the pilot said weren’t immediately made clear, but airlines have a history of firing employees for making political statements to passengers. A Delta spokesman said news week The airline investigated this report.
“Delta will investigate this allegation,” the spokesman wrote in a statement.
Some social media users defended the pilotand argued that American citizens should have the freedom to criticize government officials without recourse.
Christina Pushaw, a spokeswoman for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, tweeted, “Yes…this is not China, Americans are allowed to criticize our government officials.”
While airline employees who criticize politicians in the workplace are protected from federal prosecution under the US Constitution for their comments, private companies have the ability to set their own policies on workplace conduct.
Airlines have previously investigated pilots for political tirades
Airline employees have been investigated for making political statements, which can be alienating for customers who do not share the same views.
In 2021, Southwest Airlines faced backlash after a pilot used the phrase “Let’s go Brandon,” code for a gross insult against President Joe Biden, while signing off after greeting passengers over the plane’s public address system.
Southwest apologized for the incident, saying it “did not reflect the Southwest hospitality that we are known for and aim to provide every day on every flight,” adding that the company will raise the issue with the employee.
In another incident that same year, a Southwest pilot’s tirade attacking Liberals was picked up by a hot microphone before the plane took off. In addition to Southwest’s statement that it was “addressing the situation internally,” the FAA was also investigating the incident, according to CBS News.
In 2017, a United Airlines pilot was replaced before takeoff after she had a political tirade in which she said she didn’t vote for either former President Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton because they were both liars, according to Insider, alongside other statements of concern.
https://www.newsweek.com/delta-looking-pilot-blaming-pete-buttigieg-flight-problems-florida-ground-stop-1770741 Delta investigates pilot who blames Pete Buttigieg for flight problems