Delta CEO: Wearing masks is about ‘respect,’ says flyers who refuse will be barred

Jun 17, 2020

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Delta Air Lines is joining its peers in threatening to bar any travelers who do not wear a mask onboard its airplanes as a precaution from the coronavirus pandemic.

Travelers will not be allowed to board a Delta flight without a mask and, if they refuse to wear one onboard, will be added to a “no-fly list” at the airline, Delta CEO Ed Bastian told staff at a virtual town hall on Wednesday that was viewed by TPG.

“It’s respect for others, and if you don’t have respect for others you don’t belong on a Delta property,” he said.

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Delta joins American Airlines and United Airlines in threatening to bar travelers from flying if they do not wear a mask onboard. Southwest Airlines has said that it will deny boarding to any flyer who tries to board a plane without a mask.

The moves are part of a stepped-up campaign led by trade group Airlines for America (A4A) to enforce mask-wearing on flights. It comes the number of flyers has steadily climbed even as the first wave of COVID-19 infections continue to spread throughout the U.S.

“U.S. airlines are very serious about requiring face coverings on their flights,” A4A president and CEO Nicholas Calio said in a statement on June 15. “Face coverings are one of several public health measures recommended by the [Centers for Disease Control] as an important layer of protection for passengers and customer-facing employees.”

Related: United and American may ban passengers who don’t wear masks

In the town hall, Bastian laid out to staff how it will enforce mask rules. The airline will offer a mask to anyone boarding a flight that does not have one but will deny them boarding if they decline to put it on. In addition, Delta will not divert a flight if a passenger declines to wear one onboard but will bar them from future travel on the carrier.

Anecdotally, other airlines — including Southwest — have returned flights that have begun to taxi but have not yet taken off to the gate to remove passengers for failing to comply with mask rules.

A recent video posted on Twitter by The New York Times reporter Astead Herndon overhears an American Airlines flight attendant asking an unmasked traveler for medical proof they cannot wear one or to deplane. The traveler, heard in the video saying he did not want to wear a mask, eventually disembarked, according to Herndon’s account of the event on Twitter.

Related: Which US airlines are blocking middle seats and requiring masks?

Not every airline around the world is adhering to recommended coronavirus safety precautions. Garuda Indonesia’s CEO Irfan Setiaputra has reportedly told staff that cabin crew will only wear face shields instead of masks, a response to customer complaints that passengers couldn’t see attendants’ smiles and other facial expressions.

On the flip side, Qatar Airways flight attendants are wearing full protective gear onboard to protect them from COVID-19.

“Doctors tell me if we had 80% mask compliance throughout the country, we’d have the virus contained,” said Bastian on Wednesday.

Related: Delta to keep social distancing onboard until customer ‘confidence’ returns

Featured image by by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images.

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