Home Airlines Delta’s Giving Mixed Messages & That’s A Problem

Delta’s Giving Mixed Messages & That’s A Problem

by joeheg

Airlines had one of the hardest jobs when it came to responding to the novel coronavirus. Every part of their operations was put under unimaginable stresses. Reservation systems, loyalty programs, airport staff, and onboard safety for passengers and employees had to reevaluated and changed. All of this was while the airlines were still operating with passenger loads a fraction of what they had before.

One of the airlines that got more things right than wrong over the initial months was Delta. It’s not a surprise because before the crisis, the consensus was that Delta’s operation had things under control.

Part of Delta’s plan to keep customers informed and eventually get them back onto Delta planes was an email sent out regularly from Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian.


These updates were mostly to keep us up-to-date, and included information about how Delta was going to handle those with status, what to do about refunds and credits for canceled and rescheduled flights and what Delta was doing to make flying safe again.

For example, Delta started requiring all employees and passengers to wear a face-covering on May 5th.

Requiring masks to keep everyone safe. Providing every person with an extra layer of protection will help make your travel experience safe. That’s why we are temporarily requiring face masks or face coverings for everyone – Delta employees included – in the check-in lobby, Delta Sky Clubs®, gate areas, jet bridges and on board our aircraft. If you find yourself without a face mask or covering, don’t hesitate to ask our team for one – we’re here for you.

For the next month, Delta made other moves to give passengers some peace of mind when thinking about taking another flight. They announced they would allow for some distance between passengers by blocking middle seats, limiting the number of seats sold and adding flights back to the schedule before planes got full. Delta also put additional sanitary measures including cleaning the planes more often.


On June 16th, Delta reaffirmed its face-covering policy. They likened it to wearing your seat belt while on board. It was a “non-negotiable” safety measure.

Remaining seated when taxiing and wearing a seat belt during take off are non-negotiable safety measures to protect individuals – and those surrounding them – when flying. We take our mask requirement just as seriously. That’s why customers are not allowed to board a Delta aircraft without wearing a mask and must follow crew member instruction to properly wear a mask in flight. Those who choose not to comply with this or other safety requirements risk future flight privileges with Delta, which is in keeping with the face covering enforcement policies Airlines for America recently announced.

They put out the threat that not following crew directions to wear your mask properly during a flight could risk future flight privileges. I’m taking it to mean that they’d already faced problems with passengers not complying with the “requirement.”

It’s now June 22nd and clips from an interview that Mr. Bastian did with AXIOS for HBO Max are online.

When asked if Delta would remove passengers for non-compliance, he replied, “If you take your mask off, no, we will not forcibly remove you from the plane. If the government were to mandate it, I think that would help, because if the government mandated it, then you could enforce it.”

The Delta CEO is putting the responsibility on the government to mandate the usage of face coverings onboard planes. It’s strange for Mr. Bastian to ask for that given his somewhat rocky history with the current administration (remember when he skipped visiting the White House because he was on a family vacation?)

Since it’s a certainty that the government isn’t going to issue any such mandate, the anti-maskers can feel safe that when flying Delta, they have nothing to worry about.

After all of the emails and updates, I find it disappointing that Delta is caving on this issue with such little pushback. An airplane is an enclosed space and they can control almost every aspect of what happens on board. People have been kicked off planes for doing much less like:

In the last instance, Delta used a stock airline response whenever they decide to kick someone off a plane.

Our flight crews are extensively trained to ensure the safety and security of all customers. It is imperative that passengers comply with crew instructions during all phases of flight, especially at the critical points of takeoff and landing.

(Bold type is mine, for emphasis)

If it’s so imperative that passengers comply with crew instructions and wearing a face mask is the same as wearing a seatbelt, why isn’t Delta acting like it? Is this the mountain too high to climb for them? It’s disconcerting that Delta doesn’t want to cause a scene and will allow a passenger to not wear a face covering, putting fellow passengers at risk of getting a contagious and potentially deadly virus. However, having a phone in airplane mode or getting up to use the bathroom instead of having an accident in your seat is cause for them to remove a passenger from a flight.

#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Sam June 23, 2020 - 7:16 pm

They care about PR. That’s all delta cares about so no they don’t want any bad PR over taking someone off.

Christian June 23, 2020 - 10:35 pm

So they have an absolute rule. Sort of. I never had a very high opinion of Bastian but did figure that he was better than this. Not a good look for Delta that they’re playing games with customers health.

Howard June 24, 2020 - 9:50 am

Delta is the best run major US airline, I think no one can argue that currently.

They likely heard from a lot of people that forcing people to wear masks is a ridiculous proposition.

So, they need to ‘virtue signal’ to the public that masks are important, Blah Blah Blah. But, they also realize that their business travelers and best corporate customers see through that. So, they don’t want to irritate them too much.

It’s a balance until the hysteria blows over. Hopefully by the end of summer.

I get what they’re trying to do, it’s not easy in the world of keyboard warrior mobs to do the right thing. You’ve got to bow to the pressure, or at least signal it, even when it’s silly and trivial stuff.

SubwayNut June 25, 2020 - 4:06 pm

I work for a public bus system. We’d like to mandate face masks but since the County’s Department of Health has only said they Strongly Recommend Face Masks while on public transportation, that is the only language we can use in marketing and enforcement. We also don’t want our drivers to get into confrontations, passengers are only using the back door for their safety.


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