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Leon Kaye headshot

Delta: No Mask, No Flight, No Service

Delta Air Lines has a simple, pointed message for anti-maskers: fine, but fly with someone else, and don't let the exit doors hit you on the way out.
By Leon Kaye

Despite the data and the science, a small yet vocal minority still resists wearing a mask, whether the argument is over personal freedom, constitutional rights, their own personal health or the devil’s work. Delta Air Lines has a simple, pointed message for this crowd: Fine, but fly with someone else, and don't let the exit doors hit you on the way out.

The U.S. air carrier recently made headlines for its announcement this week that a late July flight was prepared to leave Detroit for Atlanta, but turned around, went back to the gate and kicked out two passengers that refused to wear masks during the flight. The names of the passengers were not disclosed, and the flight eventually reached Atlanta after a “short delay.”

Like its competitors, Delta has had to scramble as the novel coronavirus pandemic devastated the wider travel industry. The company has since updated its safety policy, which makes it clear where face masks are encouraged to be worn versus where they are actually required. As for the chic masks you may have seen in your Instagram stories, if they have a Darth Vader-like exhaust valve, you’re out of luck – they aren’t on Delta’s approved face coverings list.

Speaking of lists, Delta and its CEO, Ed Bastian, say the airline is serious about the mask requirement. To date, it has placed about 130 people who have refused to wear any kind of face covering onto the airline’s very own “no-fly” list. “Whether you’re on the airplane or any Delta property, including our offices and in a public setting, we are requiring makes to be worn,” Bastian told the Washington Post in a recent interview.

Additional measures include blocking middle seats and limiting flight capacity through at least the end of September. “Enhanced cleaning procedures,” including disinfectant electrostatic spraying, has also become the norm according to Delta.

In addition to its stance on wearing masks in the interest of public health, Delta has been outspoken about how airlines need to take on human trafficking and in-flight sexual assaults. Contrast that stand with some of its competitors, which have only made vague references to human rights — or, in the case of COVID-19, have dismissed blocking middle seats as a “PR strategy.”

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Image credit: Miguel Ángel Sanz/Unsplash

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

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