Delta Air Lines details its expanded cleaning processes

Oct 20, 2020

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It was great to see the number of travelers passing through TSA checkpoints top 1 million a day this past weekend — the first time since March. But that was still way down from the pre-pandemic level of 2.6 million.

Before we can get up to that level again, airlines need to build more confidence in their expanded cleaning procedures and that it’s safe to fly.

Delta Air Lines is one of those leading the push, selling Americans on the new world of masked passengers and sanitized jets. It’s all part of an effort to win over a public still dubious of mingling with others.

RELATED: A look at how Delta cleans jets between each flight

Bill Lentsch, Delta’s chief customer experience officer, reminded passengers about the airline’s strict mask policy, new social distancing markers and constant cleaning procedures. He made the comments in a Facebook Live discussion moderated by The Points Guy founder and CEO Brian Kelly.

It’s less about the bottom line and more about safety and building a long-term relationship with our customers, he told the virtual crowd.

“People before profits” has been Delta’s philosophy, Lentsch said.

That message was echoed by Dr. Carlos Del Rio, a professor of epidemiology and global health at Emory University School of Medicine, and an infectious disease special advisor to Delta.

“It is safe to fly now,” he told the group.

That message has been back up by at two recent high-profile studies.

The international trade group for airlines published a study on Oct. 8 that concluded you were much more likely to get struck by lightning than to catch COVID on a plane. The study by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) found just 44 confirmed cases of COVID-19 caught on a flight from among the 1.2 billion people that flew between January and July this year.

Then last week, the Department of Defense and United Airlines released a study that found the risk of breathing in a COVID-19 particle on a flight where all passengers are wearing masks is just 0.003%.

Delta’s panel, which also included representatives from its partners at Mayo Clinic, Lysol and Purell, focused on the blocking of the majority of the airline’s middle seats, its mask requirements and the electrostatic spraying of disinfectant between every flight. To underscore how seriously Delta is about mask compliance, Lentsch noted that 460 passengers have, so far, been banned from flying Delta because they have refused to wear a mask.

Delta also has been regularly testing its employees for COVID-19.

Dr. Henry Ting, chief value officer at the Mayo Clinic, said he’s been working closely with Delta on that effort. He noted that the testing doesn’t just keep employees safe, but also passengers. The next focus is on rapid COVID testing for passengers.

Eventually, airlines will return to a more-normal state of operations. But, in getting to that point, Lentsch reiterated that Delta would not be driven by profits but by when the health situation warranted such a return. Even then, many of these new enhanced processes won’t go away.

“There’s no finish line,” he said, “for us for cleanliness.”

To view the entire discussion, please visit Facebook here.

Feature photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images.


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