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Delta will test all of its staff for coronavirus in effort to improve safety

June 11, 2020
4 min read
Delta will test all of its staff for coronavirus in effort to improve safety
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Delta Air Lines will begin rolling out COVID-19 tests for all of its staff in the coming weeks as it looks further raise confidence in travel among flyers.

In the latest of what the Atlanta-based carrier calls "layers of protection" from the coronavirus, CEO Ed Bastian told staff in a memo on Thursday that companywide testing will begin during the week of June 15. Tests will initially be available at Delta's Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) hub before expanding to its hubs in Atlanta (ATL), Detroit (DTW) and the New York area.

"As the economy begins to recover and travel demand rises, we know that ongoing COVID testing is going to be another critical component in your safety," he said. "A full testing protocol... will be essential as we protect your health and begin the return to normal operations."

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The COVID-19 testing for staff comes on top of the added cleaning and other procedures already in place at Delta. The airline disinfects its aircraft before every flight, staff and travelers are required to wear masks onboard. Delta also is capping the number of people that can sit in first class cabins at 50% and economy cabins at 60% through the end of September.

Delta counted nearly 90,000 employees around the world prior at the time the coronavirus pandemic began to spread to the U.S.

News of the employee coronavirus testing comes a day after Delta unveiled plans to create a new global cleanliness division. The department is charged with developing and executing everything related to keeping planes and facilities clean and safe.

“Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our colleagues and our customers,” Mike Medeiros, Delta's new head of global cleanliness, said in a statement.

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

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The latest coronavirus safety initiatives come as Delta and other airlines see an uptick in travel. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened a new post-COVID peak of 441,255 people on Sunday, June 7. However, the number remains just around 17% of those screened on the same day a year ago.

Concerns around exposure to COVID-19 remain even as travelers trickle back onto planes. While every airline has doubled down on aircraft cleanliness, some like Alaska Airlines and United Airlines are rolling out health questionnaires for each passenger before they fly. Travelers may have to postpone their trips if their answers suggest possible infection.

However, most in the airline industry doubt that travel will return to "normal" -- or what it was like prior to the pandemic -- until there is a vaccine, or at least an effective treatment for the virus.

Related: Delta CEO raises prospect of ‘immunity passports’ for air travel

For now, Delta has already adding back some of the flights it cut this summer. While schedules are only relatively final through July, the airline will fly about 23% of what it flew in the U.S. domestic market a year ago in June and nearly 40% in July, according to Cirium schedule data.

The carrier has already returned around 46 jets to service and plans to bring another 74 out of storage next month to support its expanded schedule.

Despite this increase in demand, Bastian told the Business Travel Network earlier in June that Delta will keep its artificial seating caps in place until it sees greater "consumer confidence" in flying.

Related: American and Delta reactivate 300 planes as summer travel plans get a boost

Featured image by Photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy

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5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
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  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

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  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.