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Delta Allows Passengers Banned Over Mask Violations To Return To Flights

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A Delta airlines airplane is seen parked at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.
Camilo Freedman/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Delta Air Lines announced on Wednesday that it intends to allow customers barred over mask non-compliance to return to fly again.

The change could restore flight privileges to about 2,000 customers according to Reuters. Each case is being reviewed on an individual basis, and the changes will not apply to a separate list of about 1,000 people who were banned for bad behavior, in some cases related to mask disputes.

“Any further disregard for the policies that keep us all safe will result in placement on Delta’s permanent no-fly list. Customers who demonstrated egregious behavior and are already on the permanent no-fly list remain barred from flying with Delta,” the company’s statement added.

Delta was among the first airlines to announce it would make mask-wearing optional following a federal judge’s ruling on Monday against the Biden administration’s federal travel mask mandate.

“Following the ruling of a U.S. district court judge on Monday, the Biden administration announced that the Transportation Security Administration will no longer enforce the federal mandate requiring masks in all U.S. airports and on board aircraft,” Delta released in a statement on Monday.

“Effective immediately, masks are optional for all airport employees, crew members and customers inside U.S. airports and on board all aircraft domestically, as well as on most international flights,” it added.

The number of people banned from Delta flights sparked controversy in August 2020. At the time, Delta Airlines CEO Ed Bastian claimed that “well over 100 people” have been banned from the airline for refusing to wear masks.

“We’ve had well over 100 people that have refused to keep their mask on during the flight,” he told CNN.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) also announced on Wednesday that it will make its Zero Tolerance policy against unruly passengers permanent.

“Behaving dangerously on a plane will cost you; that’s a promise,” said Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen said in a statement. “Unsafe behavior simply does not fly and keeping our Zero Tolerance policy will help us continue making progress to prevent and punish this behavior.”

Despite the dropped mask mandate, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Wednesday that it would appeal the ruling.

“In light of today’s assessment by @CDCgov that an order requiring masking in the transportation corridor remains necessary to protect the public health, the Department has filed a notice of appeal,” DOJ spokesman Anthony Coley tweeted.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a Wednesday statement that “to protect CDC’s public health authority beyond the ongoing assessment announced last week, CDC has asked DOJ to proceed with an appeal in Health Freedom Defense Fund, Inc., et al., v. Biden, et al.”

“It is CDC’s continuing assessment that at this time an order requiring masking in the indoor transportation corridor remains necessary for the public health,” the agency added.

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