The Delta Airlines Mask Policy Is Confusing To Customers & Crew
I have praised a lot of what Delta has done during the pandemic. They were one of the first airlines to allow refunds for flights and included award flights in that right off the bat. Delta has been pretty easy to work with during this time, at least in my experience. They have also been blocking middle seats on all flights and will continue to do so. They didn’t just say they would like American and others. But the Delta Airlines mask policy is one area where I think the CEO has failed. And he has done it pretty much on his own. He has made it confusing and it seems like he is going back and forth on it somewhat. The last thing people want, or need, in a time of uncertainty is more uncertainty.
The Delta Airlines Mask Policy Seemed To Take A 180 In Mere Days
I wrote last week how Ed Bastian, Delta’s CEO, said that passengers would not be removed from flights for not wearing masks. Well, a mere 3 days after that interview aired Bastian sent a memo to crew member stating that passengers that refuse to wear masks will be banned from flying Delta in the future. Huh? Do you see how that could be confusing to people. What if a passenger only saw the HBO comments and never heard about the memo afterwords. Would they be blindsided by a ban of future travel with Delta? I could understand their frustration if that happened.
And the murkiness of the memo. Who will get banned? Will all non compliant passengers be banned? Will it be up to the flight crews discretion? Who will make these decisions and how long will the ban be for? Will it depend on how belligerent the passenger is? Or is this just more lip service used as a scare tactic?
What I Think Bastian Was Trying To Do
I think that Bastian is trying to protect his workers from confrontations with passengers. If they are not required to enforce a mask policy in flight it will make the experience go a little smoother for all involved. We have seen how crew and passenger confrontations can turn ugly quickly.
I think the threat of a future ban is meant to be the deterrent. That is great and all, if everyone knows about it at least. If it is not a clear mandate to all involved then it will have little to no effect. It will only lead to anger and confusion from all involved. That isn’t how you run a business or lead a group of people.
Airlines Need To Quit Using The FAA As A Scapegoat
The FAA has refused to make a stance on the mask policy and instead has left it up to the airlines. I have long said this is a mistake. Leaving it up to airlines creates confusion for customers. They have to check the policy of each airline they fly and as we can see here, those policies could be constantly changing. But I am also tired of airlines using it as a reason to have confusing and contradictory policies.
The airlines like to say that a mask policy is hard to enforce since people will say, well it isn’t a law. That is a cop out. Airlines are private businesses and have leeway to require certain things. If they want to enforce a mask policy they can, just as stores can refuse service to people without shoes or a shirt. Plus the flight attendants have authority over passengers when they are aboard an airline. This has actually been an issue in the past, with them taking their authority too far, but why are they afraid to use that power now?
Whatever the airline chooses the policy to be they have the power to enforce it. Even without a FAA mandate. So please stop making it seem like your hands are tied.
People like having the boundaries clearly defined, whatever those boundaries may be. Knowing what to expect is half the battle, maybe even more than half these days. If the airlines would each make a policy that was easy to understand, follow and enforce there would be less push back. But when a CEO essentially contradicts himself days apart it becomes an issue. This leads to angst among crew members and passengers because the boundaries are blurry.
The airlines have the power, and right, to put whatever policy they want out there and enforce when it comes to mask wearing. They simply need to decide what that is and then make sure it is clearly conveyed to all. Ed Bastian failed miserably on that front with the Delta Airlines mask policy.