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Delta wasn’t playing around about face masks – 100+ people are already banned from flying

Published Jul 22nd, 2020 4:35PM EDT
Delta Airlines
Image: AP Photo/David Zalubowski

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  • Delta Airlines has already put more than 100 people on its no-fly list since requiring that all passengers must wear face masks on flights as of May 1.
  • The list is a punishment meant to include people who actively resist the face mask policy, and as a safety precaution during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Delta Airlines also remains committed to blocking middle seats and flying its planes at a reduced capacity through at least September 30, to promote social distancing on board.

Delta Airlines

CEO Ed Bastian revealed something in an interview with NBC News this week that serves to reaffirm my intention to fly with Delta on my next trip, once I feel safe enough to get back into a plane and travel amid the coronavirus pandemic.

What he revealed is this: Since the carrier started requiring that all passengers must wear face masks as of May 1, the company has already put more than 100 people on its no-fly list. This is the step that was reserved for people who refused to comply with the company’s face mask policy, and being added to the list means that they won’t be able to fly with Delta for an indefinite period of time.

“We’ve been steadily and rather aggressively stepping up our enforcement of the mask policy,” Bastian told NBC. “You cannot board a Delta plane unless you have a mask on. If you board the plane and you insist on not wearing your mask, we will insist that you don’t fly Delta into the future. We already have over 100 people we’ve put on that list.”

To be sure, it’s not just Delta that’s taken this step toward mandating face masks on flights and warning passengers they could be put on a no-fly list with the carrier if they don’t comply. Carriers like United have also announced similar measures, and blacklists of their own.

Here’s the thing, though. Air carriers are in a supremely tough spot right now, because there are countless Americans desperate for a break and wanting to experience a vacation, but it’s our fear of flying (and being stuck in a narrow plane cabin with strangers whose health we can’t exactly vouch for) that’s holding us back. So the carriers need to, obviously, go above and beyond in their attempts to not only reassure people that safety is the utmost priority — but that actually has to be a meaningful, genuine priority, not just something they say.

“Wearing a face covering is one of the most important ways to stay safe in the airport and on board,” reads a portion of Bastian’s email he sent out to customers a few weeks ago, part of a regular stream of in-depth, detailed communications he’s sent throughout the pandemic thus far. “A study by international experts indicated that the spread of COVID-19 would be drastically reduced if 80 percent of the population wore a face covering combined with social distancing.

“That’s why we want to ensure you are aware of the requirement to wear a mask during boarding and throughout your flight. If you choose not to comply with this or any other safety requirement, you risk losing the ability to fly with Delta in the future. While you’re encouraged to bring your own face covering, supplies are available if needed. Thank you for doing your part to stay safe and protect those around you.”

It should also be noted that Delta is one of the few carriers still committed to promoting social distancing on its planes by flying at a reduced capacity through September 30 (something I’m hoping will get pushed a little beyond that date, at least).

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.