Dawn Henry, a 52-year-old Arizona mom, wanted to surprise her child with a trip when she was stunned to find out that Delta Airlines only had ticket options for male and female passengers.
The incident comes four years after many state governments finally allowed for nonbinary individuals to have an “X” gender marker on government-issued ID’s and birth certificates, stating that they do not identify as male or female.
One year later, many companies nationwide that included gender-based questioning updated their ticketing and booking websites to match these standards. However, it seems from Henry’s inability to purchase a nonbinary ticket, that the airline never implemented its initial promise to customers.
Reaching out to Delta over the phone, Henry said that a representative redirected her to current company policy, which stated that there were only two gender options for ticketed passengers.
“As stands, at least with @Delta, #nonbinary people are not allowed to fly,” an angry 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.”
The TSA website also states that passengers must purchase a plane ticket with the gender that matches their government ID, which could further complicate matters for nonbinary individuals whose boarding passes would not match their “X” gender.
According to USA Today, Delta never actually made the change to implement ticketing options for nonbinary individuals, despite promising customers a lengthy drop-down menu including nonconforming, “undisclosed,” “unspecified,” and “Mx” options.
Major competitors such as American Airlines and United reportedly added the option three years ago when the gender options were first implemented and promised.
“We certainly have a very diverse customer base,” an American Airlines spokesman said back in 2019. “This will be well-received, and we’re happy to do it.”
Others such as Southwest, United, Alaska, and JetBlue have not yet made the change for their customers.
“I am committed to fixing this, not just for my child, but for everyone who holds legal ID with an X gender marker.,” Dawn Henry told NBC News. “My hope is that pressure on the airlines (not just Delta, but the others that have not updated their systems) will get this done.”
The Arizona mom said that she would not be pursuing legal action after the incident, but that she hoped Delta and other airlines who have yet to make the change would support their LGBTQ+ customers.
Responding with an official statement after her post went viral, Delta Airlines stated that the company was “a proud, long-time supporter of the LGBTQ+ community,” and that it understood “that being seen and acknowledged is part of having an equitable travel experience.”
The company blamed Covid-19 for its “shifted focus” in early 2020 but promised once again that it was still planning on adding a nonbinary gender option to the booking system.
The airline also added that the change would be “not any easy fix” despite other airlines such as American and United’s ability to add nonbinary gender options in 2019. The company promised it would arrive later in 2022.
“I am glad they are finally promising to follow through on a commitment they made four years ago, but a promise is not enough,” Henry told NBC News.
She said that company never reached out her to directly to apologize and that she will not feel at rest until the updates are made.
“I will not stop pursuing this,” Henry continued, “until every U.S. Airline with a discriminatory reservation system has made the long-overdue changes.”