Alaska Airlines has become the first major carrier to address Friday’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down a longstanding constitutional right to abortion. The Seattle-based airline said it would continue to reimburse travel costs for employees to access certain medical procedures if they are not available where they live – such as abortion.
Missouri became the first state to make abortion illegal shortly after the majority decision by the Supreme Court. Twelve other states, including Texas, Idaho and Utah are set to implement trigger bans within a month of Friday’s ruling.
Abortion is, however, likely to remain legal in the airline’s home state of Washington, as well as California, Nevada and Oregon where the West Coast airline has a large presence.
“While the issues at hand are deeply personal, this is a very public event and I know it may generate questions about how Alaska and Horizon provide access to health care through its benefits programs,” commented Alaska’s vice president of people, Andy Schneider.
Schneider reassured employees in an internal memo that Alaska Airlines would continue to offer “extensive” health insurance benefits will include “reimbursing travel for certain medical procedures and treatments if they are not available where you live.”
“Today’s Supreme Court decision does not change that,” Schneider noted.
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) which represents Alaska’s crew members acknowledged that its members “hold a wide range of personal beliefs about the topic of abortion.”
But the AFA President Sara Nelson insisted that “the right for each of us to make our own choices about our jobs, our bodies, and our futures is fundamental”.
“The Justices will not stop here,” Nelson warned.
“They will work to strip Americans of other freedoms we have fought for. They will strip the freedom to marry from our LGBTQ colleagues and neighbors. They will strip away our rights to birth control.”
Nelson called on airline management to speak out and fight for quality but Alaska Airlines is so far the only carrier to have publicly addressed the SCOTUS ruling.
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.