Delta Air Lines Is Facing Boycott Threats Over This
The carrier's controversial statement has led some to say they will never fly Delta again.
The last two years has been tumultuous for many, but the COVID pandemic has been a significant struggle for the airline industry. As a result of the pandemic, carriers have been forced to change policies, ban certain services, and even cancel flights altogether. And of course, passengers have made their feelings about all of this known. Many travelers have called out various U.S. airlines for significant last-minute delays and cancellations that have left millions stranded in airports across the country. Others have complained about carriers looking to make an extra buck from customers already struggling amid the pandemic, like when Frontier was forced to get rid of a "COVID recovery charge" fee it had attempted to add to its ticket prices. And now, Delta Air Lines is on the receiving end of major backlash over something that doesn't have to do with flight cancellations or shady fees. Read on to find out what controversy is currently leading to boycott threats for the airline.
Delta is just one of the several major airlines that recently lifted their mask mandate.
On April 18, federal officials stopped enforcing the transportation mask mandate after a U.S. District judge in Florida overruled the requirement, The Washington Post reported. The requirement was at one point meant to expire on that date anyway, but the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) had recently extended the mandate until at least May 3 at the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Once the federal mandate was struck down in court, U.S. airlines decided to drop their own mask requirements immediately. American Airlines, Southwest, Delta, United, Alaska, JetBlue, Spirit, and Frontier are among the major carriers who are now no longer requiring passengers to wear face coverings while on board, according to The New York Times.
But Delta is facing backlash over a post it made about the lifted restriction.
While all the airlines have faced some criticism over the decision to lift mask requirements, Delta has been on the receiving end of more backlash than others. That's because of a statement the carrier released when the federal mask mandate was struck down. "We are relieved to see the U.S. mask mandate lift to facilitate global travel as COVID-19 has transitioned to an ordinary seasonal virus," Delta said in its original announcement on April 18, per NPR.
After the statement was released, several health experts and passengers took to social media call out Delta, claiming the airline was spreading inaccurate information about the coronavirus. "I don't care what you think about masking, but Delta's comment that #SARSCOV2 has transitioned to become an 'ordinary seasonal virus' is just bonkers, has no basis in science and is outright misinformation misleading their customers (of which I am one!)," Gregg Gonsalves, PhD, an epidemiologist and associate professor at Yale, tweeted April 19.
Jessica Malaty Rivera, MS, an epidemiologist and senior advisor at The Pandemic Prevention Institute, also noted that "'ordinary' viruses don't cause 1 million deaths in one country in just two years." According to data from the CDC, there have been a total of 986,545 COVID deaths in the U.S. so far, as of April 20.
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Some travelers have said they will no longer fly with Delta Air Lines.
The backlash hasn't just stopped at tweets—the airline could also face financial consequences for its comment. A number of travelers have said that they will no longer book flights with Delta Air Lines after it referred to COVID as an "ordinary seasonal virus."
"I know sometimes people say something like "I'm never flying Delta ever again'—but I am actually never flying Delta ever again," Matthew Cortland, a lawyer and healthcare rights advocate from Massachusetts, tweeted April 18 in regards to the carrier's comment. That tweet has already been retweeted nearly 300 times and liked by more than 1,000 users.
Jorge A. Caballero, an anesthesiologist and clinical instructor with Stanford Medicine, also tweeted on April 19 that he would "boycott" Delta's flights. Caballero said that the airline has shown a "total disregard for the health and safety" of its crew with it statement, which likely means it does not care about its passengers either.
Delta has since changed the wording on its original post.
After receiving a barrage of criticism, Delta Air Lines rewrote its statement on April 19—notably getting rid of the "ordinary seasonal virus" line, NPR reported. A spokesperson for Delta Air Lines told the news outlet that the carrier had made the change "for clarity and accuracy" but declined to comment further in regards to the backlash it had received for its original statement.
"We are relieved to see the U.S. mask mandate lift to facilitate global travel as COVID-19 transitions to a more manageable respiratory virus—with better treatments, vaccines and other scientific measures to prevent serious illness," Delta's announcement now reads.
But despite changing the wording in its mask announcement, this is not the first time the carrier has used similar language, according to NPR. When Delta CEO Ed Bastain announced that on April 13 that the carrier would be ending its $200 monthly surcharge on unvaccinated employees, he made a nearly identical comment. "We've dropped as of this month the additional insurance surcharge given the fact that we really do believe that the pandemic has moved to a seasonal virus," Bastian said, per CNBC.