On the eve of a new federal law making face masks mandatory in airports and on planes, Delta CEO Ed Bastian said Monday that the airline has now banned roughly 950 flyers who violated the airline's requirement that flyers wear masks onboard.
Delta and most other major U.S. airlines made face masks mandatory back in May. Airlines and flight attendants' unions pleaded with federal officials for months to set that requirement down in federal law to no avail.
That will change as Monday turns to Tuesday, as new President Joe Biden's executive order requiring face coverings in airports, on airplanes, and in other modes of public transit takes effect. The order requires all travelers 2 and older to wear a face covering and sets limits on what face masks will and won't pass muster: Homemade and cloth coverings are OK, but scarves, bandanas, and masks with valves are not.
Bastian hailed the executive order as a “layer of protection” for employees on the front lines.
“This adds a layer of protection for our people who have been integral in enforcing our mask policy. To date, we've banned approximately 950 people for failing to comply with the mask requirement,” he said in a memo to employees.
Delta has been the most vocal by far about following through with that policy, continually updating the public as that tally grows. After the storming of the Capitol last month and viral video footage of flyers being removed from flights, Bastian also confirmed that the airline had also permanently banned a handful of unruly travelers from the airline. Bans of passengers who violated mask rules are expected to last until mask requirements fade.
With nearly 1,000 flyers now on its internal no-fly list, that's up substantially from just a few months ago, when Bastian said the airline had banned 460 flyers total. A handful of other airlines have published their ban totals, but Delta's is the largest by far.
Delta and other airlines have suggested that those bans will last until the mask requirements are lifted. And with more states, even individual airports, and now the federal government making masks mandatory, that likely won't be anytime soon.
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