Sheryl Lee Ralph sparks debate after criticising Delta for not accommodating late check-in: ‘Entitled’

Sheryl Lee Ralph has sparked a debate after calling out a Delta Air Line employee who informed her she could not check-in or drop off her bags for her flight because she was “four minutes late”.

The Abbott Elementary star, 65, shared her experience with the airline in a video posted to Twitter on 30 October, in which she claimed that the incident occurred when she went to drop her bags off at check-in.

“I went to the airline - you know, the one I’m a three million miler on - to check my bags and I was four minutes late because they need 45 minutes for you to check you in,” she said. “And the woman said: ‘Oh there is absolutely nothing we can do for you.’”

In response, Ralph said she pointed out that “it’s only four minutes,” and claimed that she’s “checked in on flights later than this”.

However, according to Ralph, who filmed the video in front of a Delta check-in sign inside the airport, the airline employee continued to inform her there was nothing to be done.

“And I was just saying, you know, in these days and times, just be kinder, just be nicer, because you just never, ever know,” Ralph continued, before adding: “Anyway, I just bought my flight ticket on American Airlines and will be flying now. Thank you! God bless you. And be well.”

In the caption of the video, Ralph added: “Remember divas, be as kind as you can for as long as you can!” and tagged both Delta and American Airlines.

The video, which has since been liked more than 29,000 times, has sparked a debate among Ralph’s fans, with some siding with the actor, while others have accused her of trying to use her fame to earn special treatment from the airline.

“Aww they could have extended some grace. But it’s nice that you kept such a positive attitude through it!” one fan commented, while another said: “In a customer service business you really shouldn’t be telling the customer there’s nothing we can do. Present alternatives.”

In response to the video, someone else claimed that they “aspire to this level of humble pettiness”.

According to another person, Ralph should have been accommodated, not because she is famous, but because of her status as a “three million miler”. On Delta’s website, it notes that the status is an “impressive achievement that marks one of our most elite milestones,” and that those who have achieved the status enjoy “special bag tags” and the ability to choose from a “curated selection of gifts” each time a million miles is hit.

“Famous or not, when someone has 3m miles, you should extend some courtesies and perks you may not show everyone else. Show appreciation for their continued patronage to your business,” the individual claimed.

However, the majority of responses to Ralph’s video were critical, as many felt that her expectation that she be checked in despite being late was “entitled” and “privileged”.

“Why do people of a certain class always have a nasty attitude the second they are treated normal? This is what happens when regular people are late. A lack of preparation on your end does not constitute an emergency for everyone else,” one person tweeted.

Another said: “Honestly, the rules apply to EVERYONE. Just because you’re famous you shouldn’t get a pass.”

“She kindly told you that she cannot do anything for you. YOU were late. Would you give her a job if she got fired for accommodating you?” someone else asked, before adding: “This is wild entitlement.”

The video also prompted many to point out that the airline employee’s refusal was likely based on protocol and the airline rules in place, with some urging Ralph to understand that the employee should not be blamed for her lateness.

“As someone who works in the airline industry, there’s a reason you have to be on time for check in, EVEN if it is just four minutes. There’s a lot more that goes on behind the scenes than just ‘checking in’. So please be kind enough to understand that,” one person wrote.

According to someone else, they “get the frustration”. However, they reiterated that “there’s a reason why this protocol is in place, for all airlines”.

Another person suggested that, as a three million miler, Ralph should “know the cut off times,” before claiming that it appeared the actor had hoped her status would allow her to bend the rules.

“You hoped your name/status would put you above the rules and they did not,” they continued. “Should the airline employees be kind while rejecting your late check in? Absolutely. Should they change policy to accommodate your desires? Nope.”

The video also prompted one critic to urge Ralph to “stop it,” as they questioned whether she expected privilege because of her airline status and because she is famous. “The rest of us are just [going to] miss that flight,” they wrote. “Fly private if you wanna be late.”

According to Delta, for most airports, travellers must be checked in at least 30 minutes before their scheduled departure time. “Additionally, you’re required to be at the gate and ready to board 15 minutes before scheduled departure,” the airline adds.

In a follow-up tweet, Ralph revealed that the airline employee was “so unkind” and “didn’t even want to see [her] status” when she tried to check-in late.

“She was just so unkind and ‘there is nothing we can do you’ about it all,” she wrote. “She didn’t even want to see my status.”

In another tweet, Ralph reiterated her reminder to be kind to others, which she said is especially important “when they’re unkind to you”.

“So let me say it again, be as kind as you can for as long as you can to as many people as you can especially when they’re unkind to you,” she said.

In a statement to The Independent, a spokesperson for Delta said: “With people at the heart of all we do, Delta prides itself on a culture of kindness and respect for all. We thank Mrs Ralph for calling this to our attention and we’ve reached out to hear her story, as well as express our apologies for any experience that may have fallen short of our standards.”

The Independent has contacted a representative for Ralph for comment.