Why I hope every single airline follows Delta’s latest mask move
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
There’s endless confusion when it comes to our coronavirus response in the United States, but one thing’s clear — those masks with vents that help improve airflow aren’t nearly as effective at protecting other people from your germs. And, fortunately, Delta just helped build significant awareness around the issue with an unexpected — but welcome — vented mask ban.
Vented masks do have an appropriate use, but not when it comes to preventing the spread of COVID-19. 3M, one of the most prolific disposable mask manufacturers, has even built a brand around its “Cool Flow Valve,” which the company says is “designed to release your hot, humid exhaled breath quickly.” Nobody wants to be anywhere near your hot, humid exhaled breath today.
My first exposure to vented masks came nearly two years ago, during an especially toxic air quality day in China. Everyone was wearing a mask, much as many of us would love to see in the U.S. right now, and a number of the masks locals and tourists chose had large protruding vents.
In that situation, a vented mask was a logical pick, since I only needed to protect myself. But we’re wearing masks for an entirely different reason today.
I first noticed the issue in early May and tried to get the word out in a video on Twitter. I was able to order a handful of industrial N95 masks and attempted to hand them off to a hospital when our nationwide PPE shortage was especially severe. Unfortunately, they were rejected, since masks with valves are absolutely forbidden in healthcare settings, given that they’re less effective at preventing the wearer from spreading germs.
Unfortunately, non-vented N95 masks are impossible to come by, since they remain in short supply, with healthcare workers still forced to reuse normally disposable masks. In some situations, though, I worry that a regular cloth mask just won’t cut it, failing to keep me safe around unmasked COVID-19 carriers. After consulting a physician in the family, I found a viable workaround, and I continue to wear my vented N95 if there’s a risk of encountering someone refusing to wear a mask indoors.
The trick is to wear your vented N95 mask, and then add a second mask on top. Some healthcare workers already wear double masks to protect their precious N95s with a cheap surgical mask, and I’ve been using the same solution myself, making it possible to wear the vented N95 to protect myself, with a surgical mask to protect others on top.
That obviously defeats the purpose for anyone using a vent to improve airflow — if that’s your only reason for choosing a vented mask — but it does make it possible to safely wear a “Cool Flow Valve” mask during the pandemic, since an N95 may offer additional protection in certain situations. I’ll never wear my vented N95 by itself, though, knowing that it isn’t as effective at protecting others.
Given Delta’s latest move, I’d feel more comfortable flying the airline today. Delta is clearly taking its mask mandate incredibly seriously, going so far as to ban flyers who don’t comply, as other U.S. carriers have also vowed to do. I’m hopeful that other U.S. and international airlines will follow this latest move, too. Updating guidance regarding which masks are acceptable to wear will help keep everyone safe without a financial burden for the airline.
I did reach out to representatives at all of the U.S. airlines this week, and while none have committed to following Delta’s latest move, it’s something that’s currently being discussed. In fact, based on the feedback I received, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or two U.S. airlines follow suit within the next few days, taking an important next step to improving safety at the airport and onboard.
Featured image by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees