Delta ticket agent Billy Hsin, 54, was found dead of an apparent suicide in his Flushing apartment last month, and friends believe it may have been sparked when he was ordered to take time off after a confrontation with an airplane cleaning crew. After their 2008 merger with Northwest Airlines, Delta had reportedly been pushing out unionized workers like Hsin, who was ordered to go home on May 29th after the confrontation. He was told he would be contacted when he could return to work, but Delta never called him before his death.

A co-worker said, "When Delta [punishes] you, they never call you back. They keep you out for a long time to make you suffer, make you think that in these very hard times, this is it. This was the issue that drove him to the edge." After Hsin stopped returning friend's phone calls, a union official went to his house with two NYPD officers on June 5th. They discovered him dead in his bed with a suicide note nearby.

Hsin's union, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local Lodge 1018, says Delta had been trying to push out workers close to retirement. Union secretary-treasurer Ron Cirrone said, "Everybody is being laid off—pensions are a thing of the past. When you're at an age where you think you're going to retire like this guy did and there's nothing there for you, it's very detrimental." Delta does not use unionized ticket agents, but Northwest Airlines did.