Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said some (now former) passengers are banned from the carrier.
They allegedly refused to comply with Delta’s requirement that passengers must wear masks.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Kelly Yamanouchi reports Mr. Bastian told airline employees in a memo yesterday:
“We take the requirement to wear a mask very seriously. [Passengers] must follow crew member instruction to properly wear them in flight.
“So far, there have thankfully only been a handful of cases, but we have already banned some passengers from future travel on Delta for refusing to wear masks on board.”
So while Delta apparently won’t force people to wear masks, it seems there are consequences for those who decide to not to play by the rules.
No word if “future travel on Delta” encompasses a lifetime ban or a shorter period. (Anyone else curious if they exiled customers had elite status?)
Can Delta Legally Do This?
René linked to an interesting piece the other day directly addressing the legality of such bans.
Some passengers may wonder if airlines have the legal right to force customers to wear masks, and the ability to bar passengers who refuse. The answer, two experts say, is a resounding yes.
“I don’t know of any reason any airlines would not be legally able to require passengers to wear pants, shirts or any particular items of clothing if it is reasonably connected to safely transporting people to one place or another,” said Benjamin P. Edwards, an associate professor of law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. “If we have social opposition to wearing masks for political reasons, that doesn’t change the legal analysis.”
Whether or not the government intercedes, airlines have a duty to try to protect passengers and their employees, said Julie D. Cantor, an attorney and physician who taught at UCLA School of Law for over a decade. With passengers, she said, the airline has a “special relationship,” in which the airline takes a “caretaker” role for customers, similar to the hotel-guest relationship. And with workers, employees have an expectation their employers will keep them safe, she said.
From “Do U.S. Airlines Have a Legal Right to Bar Passengers Who Don’t Wear Masks?” by Brian Sumers, 6/22/2020
I’m sure we’ll see lawsuits at some point (because that’s how we roll in America) challenging airlines on their mask stances and enforcements.
I don’t know anyone who enjoys wearing protective masks.
But while we’re in a pandemic, them’s the rules. And Delta (apparently) isn’t playing around.
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