Delta’s CEO Has Failed Customers & Crew With Wishy Washy Policy

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Delta Airlines Mask Policy

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?

Delta Airlines Mask Policy

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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  1. You’re right. While harsh, the simplest way to handle this is if someone refuses they don’t fly, if they remove their mask the get a lifetime membership to the No-Fly club. It will only take a few examples for people to realize that they can’t flaunt polices that could kill other people. As it is, the USA is already the laughingstock of the rest of the world in our lack of response to the virus. Reinforcing our image as dupes or idiots isn’t doing anything to help that image.

  2. Wrong on so many levels. We live in a free country. If you want to wear a mask, go ahead. If I don’t want to wear a mask, neither you nor anyone else has any right to force me to. Airlines are common carriers. They do NOT have the right to limit people who don’t wear masks. (note that this has nothing to do with whether or not you think [wrongly] that masks make any difference.)

    • Tom the free country part has to do with your choice to go somewhere else if you don’t agree with a policy. Can you walk around naked? No. Why not? Isn’t it a free country? If you want to enter an establishment that has it as their policy they have a right to refuse you service…because you are infringing on their rights. The free country debate is a flawed one.

      This wasn’t even about enforcing masks or not enforcing masks. This was about creating a policy that everyone understands and is clear. Delta has basically talked out of both sides of their mouth which makes it confusing to customers and employees alike.


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