The mask mandates on the major airlines have now gone away. Unless, of course, the Justice Department succeeds in challenging the ruling leading to the change, as they recently agreed to do. But there’s one aspect of the masking problems on planes that won’t be going away for the foreseeable future, at least at Delta Airlines. During the pandemic, Delta established its own “face mask noncompliance no-fly list,” separate from the TSA’s no-fly list for those suspected of having ties to terrorism. And they announced yesterday that the list will remain in effect even now that masks are no longer required. People may be able to get their names removed from the list, but only on a case-by-case basis and only after the prospective passengers have “proved themselves” and shown that they have reformed their ways to Delta’s satisfaction. (Fox Business)
Delta Air Lines will maintain its ban on certain individuals who refused to comply with a COVID-19 mask mandate on Delta flights, even after the company dropped its face covering requirement following a Florida judge’s ruling tossing out the Biden administration’s mask mandate for public transportation Monday.
Individuals on the mask non-compliance no-fly list will have to prove themselves to the company before it will restore their “flight privileges,” a company spokesperson told FOX Business.
“With masks now optional, Delta will restore flight privileges for customers on the mask non-compliance no-fly list only after each case is reviewed and each customer demonstrates an understanding of their expected behavior when flying with us,” spokesperson Anthony Black said in a statement to FOX Business.
This announcement raises two immediate questions for me. One has to do with the applicability of these rules under the current circumstances while the other speaks to Delta’s ability to even implement such restrictions in the first place.
Let’s start with their decision not to simply scrap the list immediately. The list in question only identifies people who refused to comply with the mask mandate during a flight. If that was your only “naughty” behavior and face masks are no longer required, what basis is there for assuming that you’re going to be causing any sort of additional problems? If you became violent during a flight and attacked people or attempted to damage the aircraft, I suppose I could understand a decision to extend the suspension. But Delta already has a separate, permanent no-fly list for “customers who demonstrated egregious behavior.” The people we’re talking about here are the ones who were banned solely for removing their masks. There are approximately 2,000 former passengers on that list.
Then there is the question of how Delta got into the no-fly list business to begin with. How does a private company get to create lists of who can or can’t partake in its services? This is particularly pertinent when talking about an essential service like travel. A bar can probably get away with permanently banning a patron who starts too many drunken brawls, but even then, the target might have a viable lawsuit against them. Can you imagine banning someone for life from a grocery store after one incident of noncompliance? It’s supposed to be the job of law enforcement and the government to hand down such decisions.
The government can get away with maintaining no-fly lists, but that’s controlled and enforced by the TSA, usually based on terrorism concerns. But we’re going to let an airline permanently ban someone from travel based on as little as one incident of bad behavior? This sounds like a situation that could use some oversight, most likely from the Department of Transportation. Then again, I’m not sure if we should be sending Pete Buttigieg into battle over this issue.