Delta Proposes Banning Accused Mask Non-Compliant Passengers From All Air Travel

U.S. airlines required passengers to wear masks before it was a federal requirement, and the standard penalty for refusing to follow the rule has been a ban from flying the airline – usually until the mask requirement is lifted.

Each airline has their own list, and their own standards for adding passengers to it. When a passenger is banned from flying one airline over mask-wearing, they are free to fly another airline.

It should be noted – as American Airlines explained to employees in an internal meeting last week – that any passengers who behave inappropriately in other ways go on the regular permanent banned list.

A passenger on the mask compliance ban list at American Airlines is otherwise peaceful. “Any physical threat, touching, name calling” gets a passenger placed on the misconduct ban list.

Delta Air Lines wants any passengers banned over masks on one airline banned from all airlines.

At Delta, we now have more than 1,600 people on our “no fly” list, and we’ve submitted more than 600 banned names to the FAA in 2021 as part of their Special Emphasis Enforcement Program.

We have also asked other airlines to share their “no fly” list to further protect airline employees across the industry. As we all know, a list of banned customers doesn’t work as well if that customer can fly with another airline.

This would effectively place mask non-compliant passengers on a list with the same effect as a terrorism no fly list which was recently leaked online and whose legality the ACLU is currently challenging. Nonetheless the Biden administration has considered adding ‘domestic extremists’ to terrorism lists. And Delta would like to add mask non-compliant passengers, as well.

Of course each airline has its own standard for adding passengers to such a list. While inclusion is potentially subject to a lawsuit, there’s no real due process for being added to such a list. It’s appropriate for an individual business to choose not to do business with a customer anymore. It’s far more questionable for a business to say that no one should be permitted to do business with that customer.

Adding an appeals process doesn’t change:

  • the inconsistency, or
  • the low threshold of proof required for an individual airline to ban a passenger.

American Airlines will add a passenger to their permanent ban list (not the mask list) if a passenger engages in name calling with an employee as long as it is corroborated by a fellow crewmember, according to the airline’s Vice President of Inflight Brady Byrnes. Two employees are enough to ban a passenger for life, with little opportunity for review. Should that be enough to ban a passenger for life from all air travel? And what if train and bus travel – both subject to masking requirements – are included as well? If anything it’s passengers on this list we’re most worried about, rather than the ones who refused to wear a mask but did not even engage in disrespectful behavior.

There are countless incidents of families being kicked off of planes because their two or three year old has had a difficult time wearing a mask. In some of these cases there are misunderstandings (like kicking off an 18 month old that isn’t required to wear a mask!) as the toddler has been eating a snack. A family gets removed from the aircraft, and may take another airline home. Adding such a family to an industry no fly list potentially strands them on the other side of the country.

You might say that airlines, as private businesses, should be allowed to choose not to transport anyone they wish. But this shouldn’t be viewed as private action, it is state action. The proposal comes in response to an FAA threat that airlines had one week to come up with a solution to unruly passengers.

There is a federal regulation in place on masking. That has a fine as a maximum penalty. Pressuring airlines to impose a more significant penalty than provided for in regulation or law is highly problematic.

By the way I regularly fly with mask non-compliant crew and there are no similar penalties they would face under this proposal.

To be clear, I believe it is a good idea to wear a mask – a high quality mask, properly worn, not a thin strip of paper with two strings that meets federal rules. I plan to wear a mask during flu season in the future. Yet this approach seems like a bad idea.

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 agree with this. I mean WTF is wrong with people who think their individual rights overrule public health and fellow passengers right to live.

    Hang ’em.

  2. If the airlines do it on their own, it violates federal antitrust laws. Group boycotts are a violation of the Sherman Act if they, together, have monopoly share of a market.

    But if DOT makes It a Rule, they are immunized. And joint lobbying is protected under the First Amendment.

  3. Why not just execute people on the spot….unless they’re an illegal alien or somehow “oppressed”. Really, why not….
    You idiots wanted this, now you have it.

  4. I think Chris has a good idea. After you hang or shoot a few, the rest of the thick headed morons who infect other people through willful ignorance and outright kill some of them will fall in line or better yet, stop flying. Use of force is all these mouth breathing knuckle draggers truly understand.

  5. Just read the back of mask packaging where it clearly states that they don’t work for viruses, clear as a bell. But don’t let those pesky #science & #facts get in the way of the complete & utter nonsense.

  6. While the idea is admirable the lack of any appeal and the fact that in many cases you’re dealing with (chronologically) children’s behavior makes this a bit much. Perhaps just making the ban for 5 years in masking cases would still make it very strong but not eternal.

  7. So people can now be banned for name calling. What are the list of words used to determine if it is name calling; will calling someone cupcake get you banned. If a flight attendant doesn’t like how you look, he or she can tell his or her buddy to say you said something. This has gotten to the point where all actions are justified against flight attendants, pilots, airline management, and the unions. Don’t view them as human worthy of rights.

    Airline management, flight attendants, and pilots should be viewed the same way as rapists, tax collectors, and cops.

  8. @Babbelspeak
    Ohhh where were you in the summer of 2020….the “Summer of Love” as some would call it. I know, I know….I’ve been told that Burning, Looting and Murdering aren’t really violence and is actually peaceful. THAT’S when we need some……use of force. Watch some more videos of fighting onboard and in airports…tell me what you see. I don’t think Dementia Joe’s DOJ would support your wishes. Cuz dat be rayciss.

  9. Airline specific no-fly lists must not be shared because of the lack of consistent rules between carriers about what it takes to get on the list. The idea needs to be shot down post-haste.

  10. Part of the problem with enforcing masking is how much leeway there is from crew to crew, flight to flight. What Delta wants would help make the rules and the penalty easier to enforce uniformly. People don’t flount the rules so much when it is clear you can’t get by with it. But airlines ought to face some kind of DOT penalty when flight attendants do stupid things to passengers like kick a family off over a toddler’s mask. And compensate the passenger for all the delay and bother that has been inflicted on them.

  11. So much drama over witchcraft. Good thing the Covid doesn’t spread on airplanes when you take your mask off to eat or drink. Come to think of it, why don’t the protesters just sip water for the entire flight instead?

  12. @ chopsticks — What exactly are you referring to as witchcraft? Are you still stuck on the “COVID is a hoax” bs? Hoaxes don’t usually kill millions of people.

  13. What we could do is take these sorts of lists and combine them into a central database. It could include persons that lack covid vaccine status, no-fly list offenders, NRA members, and voters who didn’t vote for the current administration. The list of offensive persons could be posted publicly so that their neighbors could be made aware of their anti-government viewpoints along with their home address, travel history, and any other offensive trait, like maybe race. Then they shouldn’t be allowed to travel, hold certain jobs, and be required to pay higher taxes as reparations against past sins. We could create a new branch of government controlled by the White House with a mission to keep track of these people an Einsatzkommando group if you will. Those on the list would be required to wear an American flag patch on their clothing as they feel that their offensive personal freedoms outweigh the right of government to save us all from covid or “systemic racism”. By wearing the patch we would easily be able to identify them as second-class citizens and not allow them on planes or even so much as a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Later we can seize their property rights and consolidate them into special communities or camps and our problems will all be solved.

  14. I would not want this to be in the discretion of the flight crew as they make up things all the time and would use it as personal vendetta. I don’t think they should be aloud to keep a no flight lists for any reasons. The TSA no flight list created with a good intentions has caused so much damage to innocent people and there is no recourse

  15. A broad ban probably needs to be time limited, say, to 30 days after mask wearing on airplanes becomes optional, unless the offender has been violent in some way, in which case it can be permanent. There should also be some sort of due process requirement involving witnesses and/or video, if it is beyond one airline, because some airline employees would try to ban anyone who is out of line in their view, not just those violating federal requirements.

    But it is way past time to stop coddling those who think their freedom includes the freedom to spread disease. They do not listen to science, reason, cajoling, pleading, altruism or anything else. We need to get past this catastrophe and a lot of people are – purposely or through delusion – preventing it.

  16. I have to agree that there should be some sort of a ban. @Dave S got it right in that the ban should be limited to the duration of the mask mandate for simple noncompliance. Violence is yet another matter which should carry a much longer ban.
    In implementing such a ban, it is inevitable that mistakes will be made. Accordingly, there should be some due process mechanism in place. A person accused should be able to see evidence against them and be able to present evidence/argument on their own behalf, in front of a fair and impartial arbiter.

  17. I sat next to an off duty FA on a recent flight. She said she and her colleagues are just completely burned out and feel powerless about the whole issue. She talked about all the idiots who wear a mask under their nose (people do understand how human breathing works right?), or the eternal “water sippers” as described above, or the passengers who pull down their mask and lean over to talk– and breath– in her face. She said she and everyone has plenty of colleagues who have gotten sick and died from this. Keep in mind, these are low to mid-range service workers, not people who went to medical school for a high paying career. She said that she is afraid of getting verbally or physically abused so she is afraid to enforce anything, that her personal safety is not worth it. She said that the airline (AA in this case) rarely bans and that she has never heard of anyone getting fined. And things are getting worse not better. I think at this point, a stricter and more unified approach is the only choice. A commenter above said “You idiots wanted this, now you have it” but I think his comment is more aptly aimed at the cause of this whole problem, the people who think their personal comfort and rights are more important than anyone else’s. Obviously these people don’t care about the other passengers on the plane but at least have some respect and sympathy for the FAs, working people struggling to get through this. I’m fine with keeping them grounded if they can’t or won’t follow the rules.

  18. @Larry

    These flight attendants can just ignore it. They are the ones who make a problem of it when they can stay in their folding seats and give little service like they usually do. They are only burned out because they choose to be complicit in enforcing ridiculous and excessive rules they have the complete power to ignore. Cops can ignore people jaywalking. Flight attendants can ignore people not wearing masks between sips of water or wearing them below the nose.

  19. There is a movement now to make there be no permanent consequence to actually murdering someone (restoring voting rights, “ban the box”, etc.), but calling a flight attendant a name is enough for a lifetime ban from one of the only reasonable ways to get around our country (and only way to get to AK/HI)? If a murderer can change during their prison sentence, surely a name caller can change during a multi-year ban.

  20. Ah so the they shouldn’t DO THEIR JOB so that you can be more comfortable? And the people actually doing their job and enforcing the rules are the source of the problem not the people breaking them? So the mechanic who is supposed to check the landing gear on your plane should skip it and smoke some weed instead if he thinks the checks are unnecessary? Is it up to every employee to choose to follow or ignore rules selectively? Try sharing that pearl of wisdom at your next job interview.

    It’s amazing how you guys will twist yourselves in knots to imagine that everything is someone else’s fault, not just your own selfishness. You are not the heroes here of anything. You are the cowards, taking it out on everyone around you. See this is the reason why bans are needed.

  21. And there is a huge difference in your example of the jaywalker vs the anti-masker. In the first case, you can choose to jaywalk and if by some off chance you get hit by a car that’s on you (though I think your wife or partner or kids or parents might wish there were a cop around who told you not to do it).

    When you choose not to wear a mask or to wear one improperly, you are endangering everyone around you, however large or small the risk. That’s not a “right” you have. If it’s a calculated risk you want to take with your own health and safety, be my guest. But if it is a choice that affects my safety and my family’s, you do not and will never have that right.

  22. @Dan – If you’re comparing people getting other people killed by refusing to wear a mask with systemic racism and comparing people trying to save YOUR life by enforcing mask requirements to actual Nazis, you need to have the doctor recheck your meds because your current scrips are woefully inadequate. They’ve got some drugs these days that will help with your schizophrenia. Try them. Please.

  23. @Jackson Waterson
    Jack, did a FA tell you to put your tray table up and your self-entitlement bother you?
    CRY BABY much!!!

  24. Another political post….The mask mandates have been going for over a year. You don’t want to wear a mask, you don’t get to fly! Case over!!! These parents knew their child had issues with mask wearing. Did these parents try to acclimate their child to masks before they stepped on the aircraft? Probably not! Why do these parents think that their child should hold up the departure of the aircraft with 200 other people, over their insubordinate child? They are just plain ignorant!

    @Jackson Waterson flights attendants and flight crews are working maximum hours to keep airlines in the air and people moving. How would you like to work from 7AM to 9PM? Don’t you dare say that is impossible! Because, it is happening right now! Ignoramuses like you should be banned from flying!

  25. It should be criminal charges for them. Not just fines. Can’t act like civilized human beings, enjoy some time locked up.

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