MIAMI – After a long summer staying safe inside, I decided I would travel to see some family in Indianapolis and Atlanta. I booked six flights through five Delta Air Lines (DL) hubs.
My idea was to get a comprehensive look at Delta’s handling of the pandemic, and its enforcement and implementation of health procedures. These were my travel experiences during the current global pandemic.
John Wayne Airport-Indianapolis International Airport
I was excited to finally fly the brand new A220, a plane I’ve loved since the beginning. I booked it from Orange County John Wayne Airport (SNA) to DL’s hub (that’s 1 for those keeping score at home) Salt Lake City (SLC). There, I would connect to my final destination of Indianapolis (IND) on an A319.
Walking into an airport after 152 days was quite the adjustment. The first thing I noticed was the plastic partitions at the TSA security checkpoint, something I think will be kept long after the pandemic.
John Wayne Airport is a small airport, but the one long terminal seemed desolate with easily more than half of its restaurants and shops closed. When I got to my gate, I noticed a plastic partition set up as well with a hand sanitizing station on the desk. SNA did not have social distancing stickers on seats or floors.
When I got to Salt Lake City, I immediately realized how on top of social distance procedures DL was. The airport did seem crowded, but the airline had put social distance stickers on seats. Additionally, it placed hand sanitizers at almost every gate, and employees seemed willing and happy to enforce the airline’s “Delta Care” procedures, which I’ll get to later.
Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport-Los Angeles International Airport
In typical aviation enthusiast fashion, on my way home I decided to fly through Detroit and Minneapolis to be on board a Boeing 767-400 and 757-300, respectively. This way, I would get an even better idea of Delta’s new procedures at its different hubs.
Atlanta International Airport (ATL) is Delta’s largest hub. As such, I expected no stone left unturned in regard to safety measures, and I was pleasantly surprised. Social distance stickers were found on seats and floors where passengers would typically gather. Even the monitor displays had frames asking travelers to wear their masks on rotation.
I also visited the Delta SkyClub, and was blown away by the health safety steps they were taking there. Foods you don’t peel or that aren’t normally packaged were individually wrapped, and utensils could only be found out of a single unit dispenser. Additionally, small paper signs were on tables to keep at a safe distance from those eating, and even the WiFi password was “wearmask.”
Delta Health and Safety Procedures
Delta has implemented many new procedures throughout all stages of travel. I was impressed by the consistency and thoroughness with which the Crew used to implement them. From boarding to deplaning, here they are:
Delta has promised that every touchpoint on the aircraft is fogged and sanitized by cleaning Crews between each flight. I was lucky enough to see some of that from the jetway when some Crew members were nice enough to let me preboard with them.
However, I couldn’t help but finding several of my IFE screens dusty. It’s only a matter of time before Crews can become tired, and Delta can no longer afford to thoroughly clean planes between every turn.
About 20 minutes prior to departure, the gate agent would give the typical “boarding will begin shortly” talk, but added the fact that “face masks are required at all times worn over the nose and mouth. If you do not have a mask, please come up to the podium and I will provide you one.”
I was happy to know DL would have provided a mask and not immediately deny boarding, but I also wondered how someone would get past security without a mask anyway.
Delta is now boarding from back to front by about 15 rows to ease and streamline the boarding process. Comfort +, Premium Select, First Class, and Delta One passengers can board at any time.
As you step from the jetway into the plane, the Flight Attendant (FA) at the door will hand you a single-package Purell wipe to wipe down your seat with. At this time, some of the FA’s would ask people to cover their noses with their masks to those who weren’t doing so.
Once we began to cruise, the Crew would hand out a small plastic baggie with a bottle of water and two of the following four items: Biscoff cookies, salted almonds, a granola bar, and cheese crackers.
Delta’s Flight Attendants strictly enforced the new deplaning procedures, which is to deplane by row. FA’s also asked passengers who were waiting for their turn to remain seated. If deplaning from the L2 door behind first class, passengers in first class would deplane first, with Comfort + and the rest of the plane to follow.
Overall Experience Flying with Delt
Through my eight flights over five days, I never had an experience where I was disappointed in how Delta Care Standards were enforced. If I was a nervous flier, Delta would have easily put many of my worries to ease.
That being said, over the course of my eight flights, I did see inconsistencies in the way some employees went above and beyond to take the extra step to keep their masks over their nose during boarding while some didn’t. Also, it was interesting to see the ground Crew in Atlanta not wearing masks, but those in Jacksonville waring them.
Apart from that, there was nothing baseline that any employees blatantly missed.
Delta has been the best US airline when it comes to their pandemic procedures. I went into this trip with high expectations, all of which were met. DL and its employees are diligently enforcing these policies in an attempt to win over customers that would normally fly with other airlines.
Featured image and article photos: Author.