LONDON – Delta Air Lines (DL) this week announced it has banned 460 passengers from flying with the airline due to mask violations. In an internal memo, the airline’s CEO Ed Bastian stated that such passengers got the ban and placed on the no-fly list due to customers “refusing to comply with our mask requirement”.

“Wearing a mask is among the simplest and most effective actions we can take to reduce transmission, which is why Delta has long required them for our customers and our people,” he added. “Although rare, we continue to put passengers who refuse to follow the required face-covering rules on our no-fly list.”

Delta placed such rules about wearing masks on May 1 this year and has banned passengers before this point, amounting to around 240 since August 27.

Photo: Brandon Farris

Delta Taking Safety Seriously

Such measures taken by Delta signifies the level of seriousness it is taking when it comes to flying during the COVID-19 pandemic. On top of wearing masks onboard flights, customers are also required to wear masks at check-in and even told customers who cannot wear face coverings due to pre-existing health conditions to consider not even flying at all.

Delta also announced this week that middle seats onboard its flights will be blocked going well into 2021, even amid pressure from other airlines about reinstating such seat capacity. At the moment, Southwest Airlines (WN), American Airlines (AA) and United Airlines (UA) have already confirmed the reinstating of the middle seats.

Bastian said that the middle seats would only be reinstated if “consumer sentiment and confidence in air travel” is restored to pre-COVID levels.

Photo: Francesco Cecchetti

Safety over Profitability?

Whilst the airline posted a third quarter loss of $5.4bn, this has not stopped DL from keeping such restrictions and rules in place. It remains clear in this case that DL is not particularly bothered about the competitive pressure placed by AA, WN and UA over this.

Such pressure has also been seen with the likes of Voices of America stating that a minimum of 80% capacity is needed on board to cope with the significant fixed costs.

The number of people being screened through US airports is down 65%, compared with the same period last year because of the pandemic reducing consumer confidence.

Either perspective taken by airlines can produce benefits, but ultimately when it comes to the overall answer, consumer confidence remains key.

Photo: Kochan Kleps

Consumer Confidence Looking Ahead

In a quick-fire poll conducted by Airways on Twitter, around 82.8% of people remain confident over flying during the pandemic with current safety measures in place. This means that at the moment, passengers are happy to fly with the current measures in place.

The results, therefore, show as well that the current methodology used by those in the industry is increasing customer confidence during an uneasy time.

Photo: Liam Funnell

Looking Ahead

Overall, DL has of course taken a strong position when it comes to the whole anti-mask debate by keeping people safe rather than focusing on the profitability element.

Such airlines obviously believe that profits are not going to occur whilst we are in this dark period, and that the main focus is getting people on airplanes. Without that focus, then the industry collapses as passengers need to feel safe when flying.

It will be interesting to see how such COVID safety will develop, especially as we begin to get closer to the development of a vaccine coming to an end as well as the distribution process beginning.

Featured Image: Delta Air Lines Airbus A320. Photo Credit: Liam Funnell.