Air travel is less and less fun these days. But you shouldn't have to worry about being berated with other people's political views. That's the conclusion Delta Air Lines came to after viewing a 44-second YouTube video of a passenger repeatedly yelling "Donald Trump!" and asking "We got Hillary bitches on here?"

The unnamed man was a passenger on a November 22 flight from Atlanta to Allentown, Pennsylvania. The video was shot by the hapless passenger in the next seat, who posted it to YouTube, where it's been viewed more than 2.4 million times. Many who shared the item on social media called Delta out for its failure to remove the passenger from the plane. As Mashable put it, "Flying is bad enough without this guy."

Today, six days after the fact, Delta apologized to the passengers on that flight. In a statement, CEO Edward H. Bastian called the behavior "loud, rude and disrespectful to his fellow customers." He added: "We must require civility on our planes and in our facilities." And he put his airline's money where his mouth is, announcing that the passenger in question was banned for life from Delta flights--and that every passenger on the affected flight would receive a full refund.

Then, in an internal memo published to the airline's website, he wrote this: "After questioning the customer, our team members made the best decision they could given the information they had and allowed him to remain on the flight. However, if our colleagues had witnessed firsthand what was shown in the video, there is no question they would have removed him from the aircraft."

Um, what? You've been on an airplane, right? It's not what one would call a wide-open space. And this guy was standing in the aisle shouting, clapping, and waving his arms. Unless the entire flight crew chose that moment to take a collective bathroom break, it's simply impossible that none of them saw him.

It's disturbing to note (as many on social media have) that there's a clear double standard in air travel. This incredibly disruptive but Caucasian passenger was not removed even after shouting that Clinton supporters were "bitches," whereas a few months earlier, a college student was bounced from a Southwest flight and then questioned by the FBI for the crime of making a phone call in Arabic.

It's also frustrating to note that no one at Delta would have thought the airline did anything wrong if it hadn't been for YouTube and those 2.4 million views. Still, Delta is to be commended for taking its customers' social media postings seriously, and for reacting relatively quickly when it realized it made a mistake.

And there's a moral to the story, too. Next time you find yourself stuck next to someone loud and obnoxious on an airplane, make sure you have your smartphone nearby.

Published on: Nov 28, 2016
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