Though masks are mandatory throughout airports and on airlines, Delta is a bit stricter with their mask rule, requiring that passengers wear a specific type of face-coverings.
The airline's policy reads, "Any mask with an exhaust valve is not approved as an acceptable face mask for customers traveling on any Delta operated flight."
Face masks with exhaust valves are designed for people working in industrial environments to protect workers from hazardous particles. But the CDC's face covering recommendation is not meant to protect wearers from particles coming in, instead, they function to protect those near the wearer from breathing in any potentially harmful particles.
Face masks with exhaust valves have almost the exact opposite effect. The exhaust valve can act like a jet — sending virus droplets out at high speed and in highly concentrated quantities. If a person has COVID-19, wearing a face mask with a valve could actually endanger the people around them.
Even a basic cloth covering will suffice to board a Delta flight. And plastic face shields are allowed, but they will not act as a replacement for a face covering. If you find yourself at an airport with an inappropriate face covering, the airline will provide one.
Face coverings are required during check-in, in Delta Sky Clubs, at the boarding gate, on the jet bridge, and onboard the aircraft, except during meal service.
Passengers seeking face mask exemptions for a medical condition must go through a pre-boarding process to earn clearance. Their virtual "Clearance-To-Fly" process happens between the passenger, a Delta agent, and a third-party medical professional and can take up to an hour to complete.
More than 100 passengers have been temporarily banned from Delta for refusing to don a face mask. "If you board the plane and you insist on not wearing your mask, we will insist that you don't fly Delta into the future," CEO Ed Bastian said in an interview over the summer.
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