Delta Bans More Than 100 People from Airline for Refusing to Wear a Mask During Flight

Delta has been requiring passengers to wear face masks since May

Delta plane
Delta airplane. Photo: NurPhoto/Getty

More than 100 people have been banned from flying with Delta after refusing to comply with the airline's mask policy amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, according to CEO Ed Bastian.

Bastian told CNN on Friday that the company has continued to enforce a strict mask policy aboard its planes, saying, "We've had well over 100 people that have refused to keep their mask on during the flight."

"You can't get on the plane without wearing your mask. But we do have some customers that don't want to keep their mask on during flight," he continued. "We remind them several times over the course of getting ready to take off to please keep that mask on. But if they insist upon not wearing it — we insist that they're not going to travel on Delta today."

According to a July 23 memo from Bastian obtained by PEOPLE, the airline has "already banned 120 passengers from future travel with Delta for refusing to wear masks on board."

"The infection rate among our customer-facing people is below the national average, which indicates that our levels of protection are working," he said in the memo.

Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines. Nik Oik/Getty Images

Delta has been requiring passengers to wear face masks since May.

According to the airline's website, "Delta customers and employees are required to wear a face mask, or appropriate cloth face covering over their nose and mouth throughout their travel, aligning with best practice guidelines from the CDC."

Delta previously announced that passengers who claim they are unable to wear masks due to a health condition must be medically cleared at the airport or consider another mode of transit.

Bastian told Today in July that the company implemented the procedure "because we've had some customers indicate that they have an underlying condition that makes wearing a mask dangerous for them."

"We've told them that you may not want to fly, to reconsider whether air travel is the right form of transportation," he said.

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Earlier this month, a Delta flight was forced to return to its gate after two passengers refused to wear masks on board.

A spokesperson for the airline told PEOPLE in an email statement at the time that the plane "returned to the gate following two customers who were non-compliant with crew instructions," before adding that the plane departed to its destination "after a short delay."

As of Friday, there have been more than 4,907,100 COVID-19 cases in the United States and 159,900 deaths from coronavirus-related illnesses, according to a New York Times database.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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