Delta Airlines is grounding anyone who has ever refused to wear a face mask while flying.
ABC News reported Sunday that the airline’s no-fly list, usually reserved for banning suspected terrorists from boarding aircraft, has been adapted in light of COVID-19, according to CEO Ed Bastian.
“Wearing a mask is among the simplest and most effective actions we can take to reduce transmission, which is why Delta has long required them for our customers and our people,” Bastian said in announcing the policy to employees Thursday.
“As of this week, we’ve added 460 people to our no-fly list for refusing to comply with our mask requirement,” he said.
Delta has been requiring face coverings on flights since May.
Although airlines have been forceful with passengers who do not wear masks, booting them off flights, there has been no central registry of names; a passenger who refuses to wear a mask on, say, American Airlines could still fly on Southwest.
Bastian said that fighting the coronavirus is essential for Delta to avoid further financial trouble. Airlines have been suffering ever since the coronavirus pandemic started curtailing air travel in the spring.
“With the cold-weather months approaching, stopping the spread will be crucial to our recovery from the pandemic and Delta’s return to growth and leadership within our industry,” he wrote.
The move raised howls on Twitter.
Delta is on my no fly list
— #trump2020 (@Cameron63169267) October 25, 2020
For those of you applauding just wait until you’re underneath that slippery slope you’re on. Next year it will be the “unvaxxed no fly list”. Then it will be “those who haven’t been cleared by the state run Drs office….”
— melinda (@melinrn) October 25, 2020
Several mask mullahs approached and yelled at us last night at a Delta lounge for having our masks off for too long between bites & sips.
I was literally told to set my glass of whisky down more often and put the mask back on between sips, or be on the no fly list. https://t.co/cGDVYmQt9T
— Mark Changizi (@MarkChangizi) October 19, 2020
Delta is not the only airline to have a no-fly list for passengers who don’t wear masks.
In August, Alaska Airlines created a list of anyone over the age of 2 who refuses to put on a face mask, according to Business Insider.
United Airlines acted in June to create its own list of banned flyers who violated the airline’s mask rules.
Airlines are within their rights to ban potential passengers, said Eduardo Angeles, a lawyer who served as Federal Aviation Administration associate administrator for airports in the Obama administration, according to NPR.
“No one has a right to fly,” Angeles said. Instead, you’re just a participant navigating the free market: “You have several options — car, train, foot. And in this way, an airline is just like a restaurant: It can deny service to somebody for reasons that are specific,” he said
Angeles said getting off a no-fly list would require some effort.
“They have to go through their due process and appeal with the airline,” he said.
In addition to the airlines’ lists, the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center maintains the federal No Fly List to prohibit individuals who “may present a threat to civil aviation or national security” from boarding commercial aircraft.
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