Delta Air Lines Called 'Discriminatory' for Lack of Nonbinary Ticketing Option

Sunday January 16, 2022
Originally published on January 12, 2022

Despite an announcement three years ago that it would update its booking policy to include a nonbinary option>, Delta Air Lines still hasn't made the change, and one Arizona mother is calling out the $72 billion company.

As reported by NBC News, Dawn Henry attempted to buy a surprise airline ticket for her 21-year-old nonbinary child, whose birth certificate and Washington state driver's license indicate an "X" gender marker, only to discover that Delta's ticketing system only offers male or female booking options.

"I am committed to fixing this, not just for my child, but for everyone who holds legal ID with an X gender marker," Henry told NBC News in a Twitter message. "My hope is that pressure on the airlines (not just Delta, but the others that have not updated their systems) will get this done."

"But as it stands, at least with @Delta, #nonbinary people are not allowed to fly," Henry tweeted. "The supervisor said that's not true. But when a policy makes it impossible to buy a ticket that will comport with TSA guidelines, the result is the same. And that's discrimination."

While Henry could technically book the ticket, it would be in violation of TSA guidelines, which requires travelers to "use the same name, gender and birth date as indicated on your government-issued ID" and states that a TSA officer "will ensure the identification and boarding pass are authentic and match."

Delta blames COVID for the delay in updating its system (even though American and United have complied since the initial industry-wide announcement), saying in a statement, "While we quickly shifted focus due to COVID in early 2020 to helping customers navigate the rapidly changing environment and government regulations, we are back on track to be able to offer a non-binary gender option in our booking systems in 2022."

Josh Block, a senior attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union's LGBT & HIV Project, told NBC News that the current policy is discriminatory.

"There's a major problem with Delta and possibly some other airlines not adapting their computer system to correspond to the reality that people have official government documents that recognize their nonbinary gender identity," Block said. "If an airline is having a policy that prevents people who are nonbinary from flying, that would pretty clearly violate that sex prohibition."

In addition to this latest customer service gaffe, the airline is at odds with the Association of Flight Attendants, sending a cease-and-desist letter to the union that criticized its sick leave policy, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which mirrors the confusion set forth by the CDC regarding the adequate period of isolation after testing positive for COVID-19.