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Delta's interested in one thing this holiday season: Keeping passengers healthy

Nov. 11, 2020
7 min read
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This post is sponsored, in partnership with Delta Air Lines.


Americans are starting to travel again with trips by air picking up over the summer and fall. On Oct. 18, the TSA screened more than 1 million passengers (compared with 2,606,266 on the same date in 2019) at its airport checkpoints. But, that milestone hasn't been hit again since. However, passenger numbers will likely swell during the Thanksgiving and December holidays. So, how can travelers ensure their health and safety?

Air travel is undoubtedly different now than it was before the pandemic: Face masks and social distancing signs are the norm, the boarding process has been altered, some planes still have blocked middle seats, aircraft are cleaner, inflight service has been curtailed or changed, change fees have been abolished by some airlines and some major airports, such as those in the New York City area, have rapid COVID tests on-site.

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While many things have changed, one thing has remained constant for Delta Air Lines: the importance of health and safety for its passengers and staff. The airline has introduced some of the strictest health and safety measures, consistently going above and beyond CDC recommendations. And while some airlines have abandoned certain measures by now, Delta has stuck with its coronavirus policies and pledges to continue many of them through the busy holiday travel season, at least through early January 2021.

Here are some of the ways Delta is keeping passengers safe and healthy this holiday season and beyond.

No-stress reservations

One positive change to come out of the upheaval -- not that we think any part of this pandemic is good -- is the more flexible reservations policy that’s allowing people to book their flights without hesitation. Delta has waived change fees for all travel on all tickets purchased from March 2020 through the end of the year. Best of all, Delta has permanently eliminated change fees for all U.S. domestic travel (excluding Basic Economy fares). So, book that holiday flight with confidence, knowing you can always change your plans if necessary and not be penalized.

What’s Delta doing at the airport?

Protective plexiglass barriers have been installed at airports. (Photo courtesy of Delta)

While it’s natural to focus on the actual flight experience, there are safety precautions to consider when you spend time at the airport before and after your flight. Thankfully, Delta is on top of it, with carefully thought-out safety measures throughout the pre- and post-boarding experience.

Delta is encouraging touchless check-in via the Fly Delta app, self-service kiosks at the airport and plexiglass barriers at counters. And not to worry -- those kiosks, barriers and counters are wiped down and sanitized throughout the day. Lobbies, jet bridges, gatehouses and lounges are also being sanitized with electrostatic spray throughout the day.

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There are social distancing markers everywhere: at check-in, inside Delta Sky Clubs, at the gate and on jet bridges to remind passengers to give each other enough space. Multiple hand-sanitizing stations are also found in these locations.

(Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

In partnership with the TSA, Delta also rolled out antimicrobial bins at automated screening lanes that prevent the growth of a broad spectrum of bacteria. You'll see these new bins in high-traffic airports, including Atlanta (ATL), Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP), Los Angeles (LAX), New York-LaGuardia (LGA) and New York-JFK.

The airline also replaced its current air-filtering systems on jet bridges and parked aircraft with LEED Platinum MERV14 filters that, according to internal Delta testing, will result in a more than 40% reduction in airborne particles.

Forgot your mask? Delta has customer care kits at all Delta ticket counters and gates that include a hand-sanitizing wipe and mask. And you’ll definitely need a mask because all Delta customers and customer-facing employees are required to wear one in the airport and on the plane.

In the Delta Sky Club

Salt Lake City Delta Sky Club (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Delta Sky Clubs are still some of the best places in the airport to relax before your flight, even though things have changed there, too. There are seats blocked off to enforce social distancing and there is frequent sanitization.

Food is pre-plated and individually wrapped. There are more prepackaged options like yogurt, energy bars, and hummus and pita chips. Beverages (alcoholic and nonalcoholic) are all still available.

Food options at the Sky Club LAX (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

Tip: Pack your own food and snacks (especially if you've got picky eaters in your group) because choices are limited and note that shower service is still temporarily discontinued.

Related: I visited the Delta Sky Club during the pandemic — here are 7 things that have changed

On the aircraft

A Delta flight attendant passes out sanitizing wipes as passengers board the aircraft. (Photo courtesy of Delta)

So much has changed about air travel that even the boarding process has been transformed during the pandemic. Delta has shifted away from priority boarding and is instead boarding all flights from back to front in order to reduce occurrences of contact between passengers passing one another.

Delta is also one of the few airlines that has pledged to keep middle seats empty and lower capacity through at least Jan. 6, 2021, to allow for social distancing. They are also adding more flights to in-demand destinations to allow for lower-capacity planes.

Delta is taking sanitization and air quality extremely seriously. Every Delta flight is sanitized with electrostatic sprayers and thoroughly wiped down by cleaning crews following an extensive checklist. Delta will also become the first U.S. carrier to install hand-sanitizer stations near the boarding door and bathrooms on every aircraft.

(Photo by Nicky Kelvin/The Points Guy)

The air on all Delta aircraft is being recirculated 10 to 30 times per hour with fresh, outside air coming in through industrial-grade HEPA filters, which extract more than 99.99% of particles, including viruses. These high-grade filters are changed twice as often as recommended. The carrier is also installing Vyv antimicrobial LED lighting above lavatory sinks and counters on select aircraft to reduce bacterial growth.

Similar to the food available at Delta Sky Clubs, the inflight food and beverage service has changed dramatically. In order to reduce touchpoints and lower contamination risks, the airline is giving out prepackaged snack bags.

And again: Masks are required for all passengers and crew during all Delta flights, except when eating or drinking.

Bottom line

The decision to travel right now is highly personal, with myriad concerns and needs guiding each customer differently. But Delta, which has launched a new Global Cleanliness Division to ensure the health and safety of its customers and staff, is doing what it can to make the decision easier and safer.

Featured image by (Photo courtesy of Delta)

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TPG featured card

Best for Delta flyers pursuing elite status
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
2XEarn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S. and at U.S. supermarkets.
1XEarn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.

Intro offer

50,000 miles
Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
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.

Why We Chose It

Build your loyalty to Delta by applying for the carrier's mid-tier card option, the Delta SkyMiles Platinum card. The annual fee is quickly recouped by the card's travel perks, such as an application credit to Global Entry or TSA Precheck, annual companion certificate and so much more. Plus you can fast-track to elite status simply through card spend.

Pros

  • Earn bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) and an Medallion Qualifying Dollar (MQD) waiver when you hit specific spending thresholds with your card within a calendar year
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year
  • Statement credit for TSA PreCheck/Global Entry fee (up to $100)
  • First checked bag free

Cons

  • Doesn't make sense if you don't fly Delta
  • SkyMiles aren't the most valuable airline currency
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., 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 $80 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 PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • 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
Apply for Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for Delta flyers pursuing elite status
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
2XEarn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the U.S. and at U.S. supermarkets.
1XEarn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.

    50,000 miles
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • 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
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

Build your loyalty to Delta by applying for the carrier's mid-tier card option, the Delta SkyMiles Platinum card. The annual fee is quickly recouped by the card's travel perks, such as an application credit to Global Entry or TSA Precheck, annual companion certificate and so much more. Plus you can fast-track to elite status simply through card spend.

Pros

  • Earn bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) and an Medallion Qualifying Dollar (MQD) waiver when you hit specific spending thresholds with your card within a calendar year
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year
  • Statement credit for TSA PreCheck/Global Entry fee (up to $100)
  • First checked bag free

Cons

  • Doesn't make sense if you don't fly Delta
  • SkyMiles aren't the most valuable airline currency
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., 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 $80 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 PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • 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