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Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen a fervent debate rage over whether airlines should mandate customers to wear a mask on board. In a memo to employees yesterday, Delta further clarified its position on masks and face coverings for customers and employees.

No mask, no fly policy on Delta

Just last week, we saw AA ban a passenger for refusing to wear a face mask. While the whole incident created a stir, it seemed no more like a publicity stunt by Brandon Straka. A few days back, Delta’s CEO Ed Bastian said in an interview that Delta would not forcibly remove customers who refuse to wear masks.

However, that seems to have now changed. The Silicon Valley Business journal reports that this recent change in policy is prompted by the sudden spike in Covid-19 cases in the last week.

In a memo to employees dated Thursday, June 25, Delta Air Lines Inc. CEO Ed Bastian said the Atlanta-based carrier will ban customers who refuse to wear face coverings. As it attempts to relaunch its business amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, Delta requires all employees and customers to wear masks in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The same policy directive is also visible on Delta’s website.

Corrective Measures

The Delta memo goes on to list corrective measures for customers who may refuse to wear a mask while in flight.

“We take the requirement to wear a mask very seriously,” Bastian said in the June 25 memo. “Customers who choose not to comply with this or any other safety requirement risk losing their future flight privileges with Delta. So far, there have thankfully only been a handful of cases, but we have already banned some passengers from future travel on Delta for refusing to wear masks on board.”

The Pundit’s Mantra

In short, Delta may not remove you from the flight, but may ban you from flying them in the future. However, Delta hasn’t yet offered more details into the scope and implementation of the ban. Firstly, will the ban be enforced right away? Secondly, what would be the duration of the ban? Delta’s new policy directive seems to primarily act as a deterrent to avoid another AA like incident. Actually, it’s smart communications strategy by putting the message out into the public before any inflight incident.

On a personal level, I really don’t have any issue with the requirement for wearing a mask on board. Firstly, this is a temporary requirement. Secondly, even airlines don’t want customers to feel inconvenienced while in flight. From a customer experience perspective, they’d be happy to remove the requirement once they deem that the situation is under control, depending on advisory from the CDC.


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