Delta Is Modifying Aircraft With Hand Sanitizer Stations, Doing More Cleaning Than Other Carriers

Delta is modifying planes to put in Purell hand sanitizing stations. These will be placed near boarding doors and also by lavatories on all of their aircraft.

The first planes to be retrofit are the Boeing 757 fleet and that starts on Friday, August 28. The largest aircraft will have 5 stations.

Credit: Delta

This is a cool advance. On its own it isn’t much, but it’s consistent with Delta’s significant investment in cleaning, and continuing to kinda sorta block middle seats. As it is they’re doing more than many of their peers disinfecting. They were first to do electrostatic spraying (United executives tell me they literally got the idea from Delta). And they do it more often – between every flight, they say, in contrast to American Airlines doing it every seven days.

And yet Delta can’t help themselves, whenever they do something positive they have to exaggerate or make it out to be bigger than it is. It’s endemic to their corporate communications culture, but it undermines their credibility.

For instance they also choose to highlight their cleanliness efforts including “all aircraft bathrooms will soon feature hand-washing reminders.” People who don’t remember to wash their hands aren’t going to value Delta’s efforts here. And they promise they’ll be “exploring how we can bring touchless features forward throughout the travel experience.” In other words they are highlighting something they aren’t even doing.

They also claim that flight attendants “are wiping down high-touch surfaces in lavatories frequently during each flight.” I mean, Delta flight attendants are generally a bit friendlier and do more than their unionized counterparts at United and American. But this is more theoretical than something most passengers report in practice.

Still, putting hand sanitizer stations on planes is no easy feat, believe it or not. Airlines can’t just put hand sanitizer on planes.

While the TSA lets each passenger bring up to 12 ounces through their security checkpoints, and passengers and crew are permitted to carry hand sanitizer on board planes consistent with 49 CFR §175.10, an airline has to get permission of the Administrator of the FAA to carry and distribute it under 49 CFR §175.8 (a)(4). This even though the FAA studied hand sanitizer on planes and found it completely safe.

At a minimum Delta would have had to get buy in from the airline’s direct regulators in their certificate management office, and also from the FAA’s Office of Hazardous Materials Safety, on top of standard approval to modify the aircraft.

Highlighting the investment in hand sanitizer stations is cool, it’s more than others are doing – although perhaps others will feel the need to copy. And they should be applauded on that alone, along with sanitizing efforts between every flight. There’s really no need for further exaggeration.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I am not worried about the seats transmitting the virus, constantly spraying them with a sticker cleaner is potentially more gross and unnecessary

  2. “Bring[ing] touchless features forward throughout the travel experience” is corporate-speak for cutting costs by using technology to replace humans without reducing airfares. Think self-check baggage in which the customer has to physically carry their back to a drop-off point, which Delta already uses at Toronto’s airport; automatic gatehouses to reduce the number of employees working a flight’s departure; automatic entrypoints at Sky Club lounges; and automatic wine dispensers to eliminate bartenders at Sky Club lounges.

  3. Formite transmission is simply not the main pathway. If any airline really cares, they would install UV-C in airflow system and inside the toilet, and ensure HEPA filter is working and exchanging air as much as possible.

  4. United does it every flight. As an employee from a line station I know. And once you finish it needs to be documented in a computer that goes all the way to Kirby. Any failures and its your butt!

  5. The center seat thing is a joke, DL couldn’t sell them if they wanted too. Still no reports of plane loads of people getting Covid-19, why because proper cleaning and masks make it low risk.

    DL should start to watch their bottom line while they still have one and stop acting like the are going to save the world. Oh and LATAM look at how your partner help you, Aero Mexico and both Virgins into bankruptcy. Nice business model DL.

  6. This is terrible. I like everything and everyone to remain in its place. Hand sanitizer and other cleaning agents don’t belong in the passenger cabin. They belong in the restrooms. We are now supposed to eat looking at a cleaning product. That’s disgusting.

  7. Who is dumb enough to think covering our world in hand sanitizer can protect us from ourselves.

    The virus is the least of our problems as people in 2020.

    Social media, corrupt governments and mobs of radical and violent people are ruining our country before our eyes.

    Why are people still talking about a virus with a 99%+ survival rate?!

    Who cares!

  8. Gotta love @jacksonhenderson ridiculous ideas. Eating while looking at a cleaning product. The poor traumatised Trumpist snowflake.

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