On Tuesday, United Airlines posted a video to Twitter showcasing one of their planes being outfitted with rainbow graphics in honor of their "Pride in partnership" with Virgin Australia.
The flight, which saw an "all-LGBTQ+ crew" fly from San Francisco to Sydney, was blasted by Twitter users, with many questioning what a crew member’s sexual orientation or gender identity has to do with arriving safely at their destination.
"…I just want to know what someone’s sexual preference has to do with getting to my destination safely and on time?" wrote one Twitter user.
"At what point in the hiring process is this information requested by United?" another asked.
"I’ll pass, I want a pilot that was hired for flight qualifications, not because of a group he/she/it belongs to," another user added.
"Because what I want in an airline — even above it confirming the pilots are competent, experienced, and customer-focused — is knowing that the airline has confirmed the entire flight crew has atypical sexual preferences."
"My number one concern when I fly is who the pilot is sleeping with. The only way to feel safe for sure."
In a press release, United Airlines stated that the "festivities" would kick off at San Fransisco International Airport, where a celebration would occur at the gate, and "continue with giveaways and activities onboard the flight and culminate with a welcome party upon arrival in Sydney."
In addition to the flight, United announced that they made a $25,000 donation to the Trevor Project.
"As a proud ally of the LGBTQ+ community and the leading carrier from the U.S. to Australia, United is thrilled to join the party and help people celebrate the upcoming Pride events in Sydney," said Lori Augustine, Vice President of Operations for United in San Francisco.
"At United, we recognize, embrace and celebrate the differences that make our customers and employees unique. We're committed to creating an inclusive work environment while supporting the diverse communities we serve. Our Pride Flight is yet another example of how at United, Good Leads the Way."
"Virgin Australia launched our initial Pride Flight in the middle of the pandemic and fast forward to today, we have flights all over Australia, and our very first international Pride Flight from San Francisco with our wonderful partner, United Airlines," said Jayne Hrdlicka, CEO for Virgin Australia Group.
"It's so important that we use our voice to promote diversity and inclusion in the communities in which we live, work and fly. Our partnership with United Airlines is incredibly important and it's so wonderful to witness the collaboration between the airlines and the joy we have brought our guests in spreading pride right across the Pacific and throughout Australia."
United stated in the press release that the company "has an ongoing commitment to LGBTQ+ equality, including a proud history of firsts," including being the first airline "to fully recognize domestic partnerships in 1999" and being the first US airline to offer nonbinary gender options on tickets in 2019.
Other Twitter users asked when United would display other messages on their aircraft, including First Amendment and Christian-related messages.
"Are you going to display a Christian message for Christmas? I think I know the answer," wrote one Twitter user.
"As a 1K, I’d like to fly in one that has AR-15s spray painted all over with the Second Amendment written in gigantic Old English along the side, and then I want all the crew to wear [Gun Owners] swag while they go about their business," another added.
Others accused United of pandering and issuing propaganda.
"As a United 1 K flier, I gotta say this is embarrassing. Stop with the political propaganda United Airlines!" Dinesh D’Souza wrote.
One Twitter user, noting the Muslim attitude towards LGBTQ people, noted that the plane would not be welcomed into the Middle East.
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