It will allow some passengers who had exhibited mask-related misbehaviors and been put on the no-fly list back onto its planes.
Please think back to those giddy times when passengers staged protests on planes. Remember when some recalcitrant dude decided he wasn't going to wear a mask and became blisteringly belligerent? Remember how flight attendants were at their wit's end, begging their management to do something about these people who would hold up flights and even resort to assault?
Well, Delta has decided instantly to offer them a new hope. (Should they ever want to fly the airline again, of course.)
More precisely, the airline said: "With masks now optional, Delta will restore flight privileges for customers on the mask non-compliance no-fly list only after each case is reviewed and each customer demonstrates an understanding of their expected behavior when flying with us."
A flight attendant who'd been insulted and perhaps even assaulted -- verbally or otherwise -- might read those words and consider whether it was really worth being a flight attendant.
Placed, as they so often are, in the role of enforcer, flight attendants may now feel a touch bitter.
What if they again encounter one of these passengers who made their life a misery? Will they again have to smile and say: "Oh, hi, it's you again! Welcome onboard."
The former head of United's pilots' union, Todd Insler, surely spoke for many airline employees when he tweeted: "Asking for a friend. Can we get a list of all the rules and laws that we can selectively ignore? Crew members have been literal punching bags for enforcing the law, and now @united shows the world how little employees matter and how little management really cares."
It seems to be the same way with Delta.
Please agree to say sorry. We'll agree to take your money
What might these offenders have to do in order to win back the airline's favor? Just say sorry? And add, promise and pinky-swear, I'll never do it again?
Or perhaps sign the sort of online "I agree" that so many do every time they crave an app?
It's not that forgiveness is such a terrible thing.
The curious element in all this is why Delta chose to make this announcement now. Why not leave the issue for some point in the future? Why not focus on making employees and decent, human customers comfortable first?
2,000 customers were barred by Delta during the full throes of the pandemic.
This doesn't include another 1,000 "who demonstrated egregious behavior and are already on the permanent no-fly list."
Still, most of those 2,000 customers disrupted a flight because they were making what they twistedly thought was a political protest. They all knew precisely what they were doing. Goodness, now they may come onboard with "I didn't wear a mask and got away with it" t-shirts.
After all, if Delta is so painfully keen to begin the process of forgiveness, maybe they really did nothing so bad at all.
The airline says business is booming.
Perhaps, though, the revenue from the rebel 2,000 will make all the difference to senior executives' bonuses.