December 9, 2020

Bastian is the First CEO from a U.S. Airline Presented with the Honor

(ATLANTA) – Delta Air Lines Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian, was recognized with the CEO Lifetime Achievement Award by the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX), an international non-profit dedicated to enhancing the passenger experience. The honor is in recognition of Mr. Bastian’s steadfast leadership, outstanding dedication to the 75,000 global professionals at Delta, and his substantial impact on the worldwide aviation industry.  The prestigious award is the first ever given to a U.S. airline CEO in APEX’s 42-year history as the leading international airline association for advancing customer experience.

During his tenure as Delta CEO, Mr. Bastian has taken innovative steps to enable growth and advancement for the airline. He was the first CEO of a top U.S. airline to approve the addition of a cabin of fully enclosed business class suites, led the U.S. market with the introduction of premium economy, added more in-flight entertainment screens to more aircraft than any other airline in the world during his tenure, and, earlier this year, became the first airline CEO to keynote the Consumer Electronics Show.

Mr. Bastian also walks the line between values and politics, in his words to “raise our voices when something goes against our beliefs, [and to] help amplify those who have been silenced.” Mr. Bastian was the first major U.S. airline CEO to come out against building a border wall with Mexico, ended Delta’s special discounts for “politically divisive” groups, and proudly took a leading role against racial injustice at the dawn of Black Lives Matter movement forwards fighting racial injustice. 

In his more than two-decades with Delta, Mr. Bastian has exemplified the airline’s shared values of honesty, integrity, respect, perseverance, and servant leadership. This was never more apparent than during COVID-19 when his focus turned to the health, safety, and wellbeing of his Delta colleagues and passengers. Mr. Bastian took bold steps like blocking middle seats further into the future than any other airline, imposing regular testing for his team, and launching the Delta CareStandard – all with the goal of assuring a more reliable and safe travel experience.

“I believe Ed Bastian’s legacy as Chief Executive Officer of Delta will be remembered as advancing the golden age of airlines. His corporate philosophy is to invest in your people first and foremost; they, in turn, take virtuous care of their customers.  That provides great returns to Delta, enabling further advancement for all,” said APEX CEO, Dr. Joe Leader. “The slogan for Delta is ‘keep climbing.’ No matter the force of the unexpected wind shear, Ed has relentlessly kept climbing fueled by his passion for employees, customers, and values.”

“Thank you for providing a lifetime achievement award . . . it’s humbling, especially for a small-town guy that didn’t step foot on an airplane until he was well into his business career to have had an opportunity to impact an industry, an airline, and our city here in Atlanta . . .” Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian stated as receiving the award at FTE APEX Virtual Expo broadcast worldwide this afternoon.  “I am honored on behalf on behalf of all of our people to accept your award.”

Mr. Bastian currently serves as Chairman of the APEX/IFSA Board of Governors, a role he agreed to stay in for a second term in order to provide added stability during the pandemic. This exclusive group of airline CEOs and Presidents sets priorities for the airline industry in advancing customer experience worldwide.

Yesterday, Mr. Bastian received Delta’s honor accepting the APEX 2021 Five Star Global Official Airline Rating™ as determined by their customers and independently by APEX with over a million flights.  From over 600 airlines rated by verified passengers worldwide, Delta was among a single percentage of airlines rated Five Stars.  The airline’s customer ratings continued climbing to new heights, even it the wake of COVID-19. 


About the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) 

As a global non-profit and one of the world’s largest international airline associations, APEX accelerates our industry with the backing of nearly every major airline and valued supplier.  In conjunction with both the International Flight Services Association (IFSA) and Future Travel Experience (FTE), APEX serves the full spectrum of the end-to-end travel experience.  APEX reinvests all of its resources to serving its members, strengthening the worldwide airline industry, advancing thought-leadership, fostering business opportunities via events, developing global initiatives, setting key airline standards, and highlighting well-deserved recognition across our industry. 

For more information about APEX, please visit, sign up for the APEX Daily Experience e-newsletter, or follow APEX on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

View the entire award presentation below