Delta’s No-Fly List Has Grown By 240 Because Of Mask Refusals

US carrier Delta Air Lines has added around 240 people to its no-fly list in recent weeks because they refused to wear a face mask. Today, in a memo sent to employees, CEO Ed Bastian confirmed that the airline would continue to add to the list when necessary. As there is no federal mandate, US airlines can choose how and when to enforce mask rules on flights.

Delta Air Lines
Delta has added over 240 people to its no-fly list in recent weeks for refusing to wear a mask. Photo: Delta Air Lines

No-fly list warnings

Although passengers traveling in the US must agree to wear a face mask in order to be given a boarding pass, actually enforcing this rule has proven difficult. Airline officials have previously refused to allow passengers to board if they have no mask in the terminal.

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Business Insider reported that one flight was taxiing to the runway when two passengers removed their masks. The crew turned the plane back to the gate to remove the passengers. However, once in the air, there is very little cabin crew can do to force passengers to wear a mask.

The best strategy is to try to persuade passengers to wear their masks by informing them they risk being unable to fly with the airline again. Delta has been making full use of this, adding around 240 more people to its no-fly list in recent weeks. Masks have been required on Delta flights since May 1st.

In the memo to employees which was seen by Reuters, CEO Ed Bastian said,

Although rare, we continue to put passengers who refuse to follow the required face-covering rules on our no-fly list.”

Other Delta efforts

Delta doesn’t expect passengers to make all the effort. The airline is doing its fair share to prevent the spread of the disease. It has been blocking middle-seats since the start of May. An MIT study found that, in practice, this could decrease the chances of infection while flying from one in 4,300 to one in 7,700.

Delta’s No-Fly List Has Grown By 240 Because Of Mask Refusals
To convince wary travelers to fly and to reduce infection onboard, Delta will maintain enhanced cleaning routines. Photo: Delta Air Lines

As well as blocking middle seats, Delta has created an entirely new Global Cleanliness team to ensure all Delta planes are as hygienic as possible. Depending on the size of the aircraft, as many as eight cleaners will perform a pre-flight cleaning routine.

The plane must pass an inspection by the gate agent and cabin crew before takeoff. If it isn’t clean enough, the cleaners will return. Delta has said this will happen even if it means delaying the flight.

Safe and clean

Another element of Delta multi-faceted cleaning regime is aircraft lavatories. In an email sent out today, the airline detailed “Five ways Delta is keeping lavatories safe and clean for you.” Cabin crew will now be required to wipe-down surfaces in lavatories during flights to keep them clean.

As well as cleaning frequently touched points, Delta will look at making more lavatories touch-free.  The airline did confirm that its “A350s, A330-900neos, 767-400s and 757-200s already have some hands-free features.” 

should airlines be blocking the middle seat
Delta will continue cleaning aircraft even if it means flights are delayed. Photo: Delta

Additionally, from tomorrow, Delta will begin installing hand-sanitizing stations on its aircraft, beginning with its Boeing 757-200 fleet. Some planes will have as many as five stations onboard to encourage people to keep their hands clean.

Delta says its customer satisfaction numbers have jumped as passengers appreciate the effort the airline has gone to keep everything clean. No doubt, the airline is hoping this vote of confidence will translate to its financial figures for the next quarter.