On Tuesday afternoon, a flight attendant who works for a major airline and who’s based out of Dallas, posted a stunning statement on his Facebook page. The post was then picked up by the Houston Chronicle. Hunt Palmquist’s statement may very well have lead to an historical decision within the airline industry.
On Wednesday, in public statements, major airline carriers including American Airlines, United Airlines and Southwest (the list grows) basically told the Trump Administration and federal government that they would not take part in the cruel and abhorrent Trump immigration policies that separated migrant children from their families. The airlines let Trump, his administration and his weak, self-serving, complicit Republican Congress members know—that the government would no longer be allowed to use the planes by these airlines—to commit their violations of human rights.
Palmquist, who’s been flying for 29 years, said what he saw on two Texas flights, was more disturbing than anything he had witnessed on any flight—during his entire career.
“…Images of those helpless children have burned into my psyche. The little children whose faces were full of fear, confusion, sadness and exhaustion left me somewhat traumatized as it occurred to me a few weeks later that I might as well have been a collaborator in their transport.”
Alluding to the millions of Jews who were transported to Nazi concentration camps, Palmquist said he couldn’t help but compare how similar it seemed to see these children being transported—to “makeshift homes.” Because of what he witnessed on just two flights with migrant children, Palmquist says he made the decision to no longer be complicit to Trump’s “unconscionable” immigration policies.
“As a result of what I witnessed, I have made a decision that if I’m ever assigned to a flight with children who’ve been separated from their families, I will immediately remove myself from the trip due to the nature of this unconscionable act by my government and my employer’s complicity.”
Palmquist said he conveyed his experience to his flight attendant colleagues—who then pledged to do the same. The “inhumane” separation of children from families is against his morals, principles, religion and spiritual teachings he adds.
“This is not the American citizen that I was raised to be nor the one that I will embrace. What we are experiencing is painful, unnecessary and completely unacceptable and I feel somewhat ashamed that it took me this long to process these feelings. I keep kicking myself for not trusting my gut and walk off of both of those flights.”
He concludes his statement with is vow of resistance.
“I will no longer be complicit and will walk away from any future flight assignments that try to make me a pawn for this disgusting and deplorable cause.”
It’s one thing to talk about one’s outrage—another to take action. Palmquist took action. You can read his full statement in the Houston Chronicle.
I have great admiration for Hunt Palmquist. Courage like his and that of others to reveal the truth, speak with compassion and take action are what makes #TheResistance so strong. By asking other flight attendants to follow his lead, that may have led to other airline employees to make the pledge. As a former flight attendant, I can say—if a major airline carrier gets even a hint of a flight attendant walkout, they are apt to take fast action. They can’t fly their fleets without flight attendants and would have to cancel all of their flights. This would cost them millions, possibly billions. Whether this was the way it all went down is hard to say with certainty, but what we do know is that noncompliance on the grounds of inhumane treatment within any industry starts with one or two brave souls talking about it and then taking action. And thus, laws often begin to change. Thank you to all the flight attendants, airline employees, airline officials and anyone who refuses to comply with an unlawful madman in the Oval Office—and the complicit Republican Party that has allowed Trump to reek havoc and cause suffering around the world.