No mask, no flying — that's the rule on every U.S. airline to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. Two passengers recently learned the hard way when they were removed from a Delta flight for not complying with the airline's mask requirement. In a statement to CBS News on Monday, a Delta spokesperson confirmed that on July 23, Flight 1227 from Detroit to Atlanta was returned to the gate after two customers were non-compliant with crew instructions.
After a short delay, the aircraft departed to Atlanta, the spokesperson said.
As of July 23, Delta said it had added 120 passengers to its no-fly list after they refused to comply with the carrier's requirement to don a mask aboard one of its flights. It is unclear if the two passengers removed from Flight 1227 were added to that list.
In addition to a face covering requirement, the Atlanta-based airline says it is also expanding its COVID-19 testing program to cover its entire workforce. That will include at-home screening for employees, starting with those who live in two virus hotspots, Florida and Texas.
"By testing 100% of our people, we're establishing a baseline that helps us make critical decisions to protect everyone's health and safety — our employees and our customers," Delta CEO Ed Bastian told employees in a July memo obtained by CBS News.
All of the major airlines in the U.S. require face masks on planes. Most airlines have also adopted other safety measures, like extra cleaning, and some have lowered the capacity of flights.
Health officials say there's a growing amount of evidence that face masks are an effective way to slow the spread of COVID-19, which is mainly transmitted from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Wearing a face covering is especially important because people can unknowingly spread the virus even when they're not showing any symptoms. The CDC recommends that people wear masks in public settings when around others outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.