After Orlando massacre, corporations reach out to victims and their families

At least two airlines said they would extend free airfare to the friends and families of Orlando shooting victims.

Jim Young/Reuters
Tony Backe lights a candle at a vigil for the victims of the shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday.

Following the Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando, Florida, corporations are working to show that they have a heart.

JetBlue and Allegiant airlines announced on Monday that they would offer free flights to and from Orlando for the families of the victims.

JetBlue is providing free seats on its available flights to/from Orlando for immediate family and domestic partners of victims who were killed or injured,” the company stated on a blog post. “Those family members and domestic partners requiring travel assistance can contact 1-800-JETBLUE for details.”

The airline also said it would waive fees for changes and cancellations for customers traveling to and from Orlando’s airport between Sunday and Tuesday.   

Similarly, Allegiant announced on Monday that family and friends of victims would be eligible for free airfare, posting on its Facebook page: “If you, your family or friends were affected by what happened this weekend, we want to help. Whether you need to fly to or from the Orlando area, please write into us at and tell us.”

Chick-Fil-A, which has frequently come under fire from LGBT advocates for their ownership’s outspoken opposition to gay marriage, also took the occasion to show solidarity with the victims. Several locations in the Orlando area opened on Sunday – a day on which the chain normally remains closed for religious reasons. According to a local FOX affiliate, Chick-Fil-A employees arrived at sites around the city where blood drives were being hosted in support of the survivors, passing out iced tea and sandwiches to those waiting in line to donate blood.

Authorities in Orlando released on Sunday the names and ages of the 49 victims of the shooting. Some 53 others were wounded in the attacks, which is said to be the worst mass shooting in US history.

News of the tragedy also sparked a host of fundraising drives for the families of the victims, often led by LGBT groups. Al Jazeera reported on Tuesday that a GoFundMe campaign by Equality Florida, a statewide organization for LGBT rights, had drawn $2.7 million in donations by Monday night. By Tuesday morning, it had climbed to over $3 million. A drive led by the LGBT Center of Central Florida attracted contributions from another corporate donor: the Gap clothing chain, which put in $50,000 toward the cause.

An FBI investigation into the shooting is ongoing. On Monday, two Orlando-area men told MSNBC and the Los Angeles Times that they recognized shooter Omar Mateen from gay dating apps. Several regulars at Pulse also told the Orlando Sentinel that they believed they had seen Mateen attend the club on numerous occasions prior to the night of the shooting.

NBC News reports that President Barack Obama will travel to Orlando on Thursday to visit with the families of victims. In recent days, Obama urged legislators to move in response to the shooting, saying that “lax” federal gun policies should prompt “soul-searching”. 

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