Delta Air Lines has agreed to quickly update its booking systems after facing an online backlash because it only lets passengers who identify as male or female buy tickets. The airline has been promising to add a non-binary booking option for people who don’t identify as either male or female since 2018 but has so far failed to update its antiquated computer system.
The Atlanta-based airline was pressed into action after being called out by a customer in a series of now-viral Tweets. Aurora Dawn of Tucson, Arizona accused Delta of discrimination after trying to book airline tickets as a present for her adult child who identifies as non-binary.
During the booking process, Aurora discovered that Delta forces customers to choose one of only two gender options – male or female. The issue was that Aurora’s offspring had valid identification with an ‘X’ gender marker and to comply with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) rules, the ID should exactly match the boarding pass.
Aurora first brought this up with the TSA who directed her to Delta but after phoning the airline, she discovered agents had no way to add an ‘X’ gender marker to the booking. Her child was effectively barred from flying with Delta.
“The rep who answered my call was really trying to help, but she was unable to change the gender designation to X,” Aurora wrote. “The Delta rep was determined to help, but after over 30 minutes on hold, she told me ‘they’ said it doesn’t matter what the ID says, use what’s on the birth certificate. I explained that the Birth Certificate also says X”.
“After some time on hold, a Delta supervisor in Atlanta came on the line and told me that their system only uses male/female and I can only use one of those. I explained again that my adult child is non-binary and LGBTQ and their ID is X and TSA requires them to match”.
But after unsuccessfully arguing her point with the Delta supervisor, Aurora hung up and tried to search for flights with another airline. She discovered that Alaska Airlines also didn’t offer non-binary booking options, while other airlines that served the route she was booking were more expensive.
“Why should a nonbinary, LGBTQ person have to pay MORE in order to be allowed to fly?” she asked in her tweet thread.
Since the tweets went viral, Delta has responded and promised to update its booking systems by Q4 2022.
A spokesperson for the airline told LGBTQ Nation: “Delta Air Lines is a proud, long-time supporter of the LGBTQ+ community and we understand that being seen and acknowledged is part of having an equitable travel experience.”
“As such, we have begun the process of updating our booking systems to be more inclusive by offering a non-binary gender option. We expect this option to be available to customers during the fourth quarter of 2022.”
Last October, the U.S. State Department issued its first-ever passport with an ‘X’ gender marker to signify that the holder is either non-binary, intersex or gender non-conforming.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced plans to offer U.S. passports with an ‘X’ gender market back in June 2021 but a full rollout isn’t expected until some time in 2022 because of the “technologically complex” system updates that are required.
United Airlines became the first domestic U.S. carrier to give passengers non-binary booking options in 2019 including the ‘X’ marker and ‘U’ for undisclosed. United updated its policy after the changes were approved by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.