Delta To Require Masks, Add Surcharge For Unvaccinated Employees

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Delta Air Lines is now requiring employees who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to wear masks in all indoor Delta settings, according to a memo sent by company CEO Ed Bastian on Wednesday. In addition, weekly COVID tests will be required for any employee who is not fully vaccinated as of Sep. 12. The memo also stated that unvaccinated employees enrolled in Delta’s healthcare plan will be subject to a $200 monthly surcharge beginning Nov. 1.

“The average hospital stay for COVID-19 has cost Delta $50,000 per person,” Bastian wrote in the memo. “This surcharge will be necessary to address the financial risk the decision to not vaccinate is creating for our company. In recent weeks since the rise of the B.1.617.2 variant, all Delta employees who have been hospitalized with COVID were not fully vaccinated.”

The mask requirement is expected to remain in place “until community case rates stabilize.” According to Delta, approximately 75 percent of its employees are currently vaccinated against COVID-19. Along with the spread of virus variants, Bastian cited the FDA’s Monday announcement that it has granted full approval for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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70 COMMENTS

  1. Just to be sure where I am coming from. I have been vaccinated, set up by my company, I did so willingly, without any mandate. Although I think it is a dirty, backhanded way for Delta to mandate being vaccinated, it is also hard for me to feel any sympathy for those employees who have been refusing due to the airlines insistence on passengers wearing masks. This was before the the current administration came to power. Maybe those employees at Delta (along with United) should think about what they are asking passengers (customers, although airline companies seem to forget that term these days) to do and do that themselves, instead of doing what the current political party in power is doing( do as I say, not as I do).

    • Reading and integrating, Delta’s expressed justification is health care costs. So I don’t see what is underhanded in your mind.

      Delta’s statement about unvaccinated employees being hospitalized with COVID-19 is consistent with statistics from WA state that over 90% of persons in hospital recently due to COVID-19 were not vaccinated.

      (Note the qualifier ‘account-based’ in talking of Delta’s health care plan.

      Unfortunately he over-hypes by claiming SARS2 panicdemic is “one of the most dangerous challenges our world has faced in this lifetime.” – at his age he has been through other infectious disease pandemics.
      And he uses the ‘driving’ buzzword.

  2. First off, vaccinated people can still spread the virus. Next, Paper or cloth masks do you not work at stopping the spread of a virus. Lastly, natural immunity is just as good as vaccinations.

    Any supervisor who actually believes this will “work” should not be working for a public transport system.

    • I’m not responsible to protect someone else’s personal health. Protect yourself or don’t, I dont give a crap.
      You do you. I’ll do me. Comments that others should be doing more to help the unvaccinated is horsecrap

    • “,….one of the most dangerous challenges our world has faced in this lifetime.”

      Misleading statement alert!

      The few vaccinated people who still contract COVID-19 only get mildly ill so do not shed much virus. There are a very few vaccinated people who may be more strongly ill because the vaccine was not effective in their body – that’s a low risk probability.
      But you are playing a ‘slide-by-..’ game of making a statement that sounds good but misleads by omitting probability.

      As for ‘natural immunity’ there are two situations I am aware of:
      – some people are immune from something in their past, such as a virus somewhat related to SARS2.
      – an Israeli study used the term for people who have recovered from COVID-19, their research suggests they have greater immunity than they would have received from vaccine. Of course the study could not include people who died from COVID-19. People foolishly extrapolate that into a belief in not needing vaccine, which is not logical.

      • ERROR:
        I was responding to ‘usual suspect’ AJ Foyt’s claim that “…vaccinated people can still spread the virus.”

        As for masks, normal ones (misleadingly called ‘surgical’ stop your droplets from hitting my face, which is the primary method of transmission as it hits me with a lot of virus. (A secondary benefit is the mask slows people down from putting contaminated fingers on their face.)

        Good N95 masks do far more, I thin they stop mist. (I say ‘good’ because there’s jund out there, like cheaply made KN95 mass from Communist China – that’s a CC spec supposedly equivalent to N95 but much of the product out of CC is badly shped.)

  3. My job is not to take care of your sorry sick ass. Take care of it yourself. I have a hard enough time taking care of my family and myself much less worrying about saving the world. Dump your guilt trip on some other sucker.

  4. It’s reasonable for Delta or any employer to charge extra health care costs for unvaccinated employees since there are many more hospitalized COVID cases among the unvaccinated than the vaccinated. It’s fairer for an employer to charge the unvaccinated to recover a disproportionate share of their medical costs than to raise the health care premiums for all employees.

    Studies and official CDC guidance show that the vaccinated as well as the unvaccinated can transmit COVID so everyone wearing masks (N95, KN95 or equivalent) makes sense until positive tests and hospitalizations drop significantly.

    No matter what the airlines say, it’s still risky to spend time inside a metal tube breathing air expelled by many others who may be carrying COVID. The best air filtration system in the world will help reduce, but not eliminate, the risk and we all know that not every airliner has the best air filtration system. Even if you are vaccinated, you can still pick it up and transmit it to someone who might be more fragile or an unvaccinated child.

    As far as I know, only an antibody blood test can determine if someone has a degree of immunity to COVID so people who believe that they are immune without an antibody test are fooling themselves. I know four people who thought that and caught COVID.

    Many of the anti-vaxxers must be too young to remember smallpox, tuberculosis and polio. I grew up in that era and the only reason that we don’t still have them is because of vaccinations.

    • If masks work so well, then why were nurses/doctors getting sick with / dying of covid last/this year? Weren’t they wearing masks?

      If anyone actually believes they can eradicate covid, I have a bridge for sale. It’s a flu variant and if we’re to believe the stories, came from bats. Even if we vaccinate every single human on the planet, how do you eradicate it in the wild? It will be with us forever and just like the common flu, we’ll build up herd immunity/develop a series of rotating vaccines for it over time.

      The Spanish flu didn’t disappear. It simply mutated over time and the population on the planet became “normalized” to it. Covid will do the same. Stop believing all the crap from the media and money-mongers pushing huge profits for the drug companies. Take the vaccine (new mRNA or traditional J&J) or not. It really is your choice.

      There are millions of people who’ve had covid (last year and this year) that no one knows about because they’re not testing for antibodies. I wonder why that is…

    • Masks – the CDC itself recently told people that a mask is ineffective in blocking smoke particles from the raging fires in the Western US. They said the only protection is to stay indoors. Compare the smoke particle to a virus – smoke is many times larger.
      COVID cases – upwards of 70% of current COVID variant cases are in fully vaccinated people.
      Vaccine – it took 33 years to develop the polio vaccine. 20 yrs for smallpox. Are we to believe that science has made such phenomenal gains that we developed one in six months? Not to mention that the test animals all died, so testing was halted? The FDA just recently approved the Pfizer vax for basically testing in humans. That’s correct – the human equivalent of guinea pigs, lab rats.
      Testing – once again, the CDC itself has stated that the COVID tests are highly inaccurate. So how are we to believe any numbers, large or small?
      And lastly, money – look into the financial end of this entire illness. Do the research yourself. See how many have become millionaires (and billionaires) over this. And this is “for the good of humanity”? I dare state it is more for the “good of those reaping the profits”.

      • You omit that the primary risk of transmission of SARS2 virus is from droplets hitting your face, and secondarily from touching your mouth or nose with hands contaminated from surfaces someone sneezed on.

        As for your conspiracy theory, I point out that Marxism never fed anyone let along kept them healthy.

    • Should Delta raise health premiums on people who are obese, have diabetes, how about drink or smoke, and we all know riding motorcycles is inherently dangerous. Flying airplanes? Lord knows, the life insurance companies think all pilots are kamikazes. Where does this discrimination and insanity end?

      • Yes, but difficult to do accurately.

        As for insurance, companies do try to assess risk. For example:
        – my residential insurer checked distance to fire hydrants
        – I have many examples of insurers being smart about assessing risk

        But new pilots often crash because they are not familiar with basics lie avoiding stalling in turns. Similarly new automobile drivers lack knowledge and are often unsafe – three promising teenagers hit a tree in Surrey BC last wee, excessive speed was a factor. A problem is how to separate the well trained and careful from the riffraff, like the sports star who didn’t pull his little amphibian up soon enough – stunting and worse.

    • “”the vaccinated as well as the unvaccinated can transmit COVID..”

      Misleading statement, as:
      – very few people who have been vaccinated contract COVID-19 (in rare instances the vaccine did not work for them)
      – otherwise, if someone who has been vaccinated contracts COVID-19 it will be a mild case so they will not shed much virus, thus risk of transmission is low.

    • You omit people who have already had COVID-19, they have immunity.

      But they’ll need a certificate from a doctor/hospital, which they won’t get if they were not sic enough to seek help.

      That is a point in debating ‘community immunity’ threshold, I guestimate about 10% of the population, based on one state’s 4:1 ratio to reported and that a few percent of the population was recorded.

  5. Every school system in the US requires its students to be vaccinated against a host of preventable illnesses. It is standard medical practice to vaccinate human infants. It is also standard medical practice to vaccinate pets and livestock against preventable illnesses.
    I remember the threat of polio as a kid. Not fun. Scary. f not outright deadly, highly disabling.
    I don’t understand how preventing pain and death somehow became a rallying cry for freedom of choice. It’s sort of like yelling, “I have a right to injure, disfigure, and kill myself!”. Which just seems to be so contrary to the core foundation of aviators. The basis of all aviation education is safety for self and others.
    The “deal” with the corona virus is that it can only live and multiply in humans, and the more it multiplies the more likely it will mutate into more “successful” variants. Stopping the multiplication or the spread and the pandemic is arrested. It’s really the patriotic thing to do.

    • corona virus can only live and multiply in humans? So, you’re not of the opinion (since no one can get the facts) that it came from bats originally? I.e., it is a lab-developed virus that leaked (or intentionally released)? I would love to believe that. But lacking evidence to the contrary, if we’re to believe what the media and China told us last year, this jumped from bats to humans. So, your theory we can eradicate it by stopping the spread in humans is misplaced.

      If you have evidence the virus only exists in the human population, not the animal kingdom, by all means, share with the rest of the world. You will be the first to present such information. It would be fantastic news (and any media organization pushing a narrative is not to be trusted – only looking for hard science here).

    • No, the patriotic thing to do is to demand answers for the US government who engineered this disease and had it patented, and not give in to their ridiculous mandate that we become their lab rats. They only want to control us… today, COVID; tomorrow every other aspect of our lives!

    • Why should I take a vaccine after I had Covid and recovered just fine without medical intervention? And for healthy people who get it, 99.5.5 recover with no problems. And now the CDC reports that of vaccinated people 1683 have died of Covid, minuscule for sure, but I thought this was the Holy Grail to save us. I won’t be taking the shot, it’s been 16 months since I recovered, and most of my family has had Covid and recovered just fine, except my 43-year-old son-in-law, he actually went out and got the J&J shot after stupid insane pressure from uneducated lunatics, and he now has Guillain-Barré Syndrome, how nice, a perfectly healthy young man is now suffering from numbness in his legs and arms because of this experimental poison. What did they tell him at the ER when he went in, “nothing we can do about it, it should eventually go away, but it could become permeant, if you get pain in your chest get back here immediately. Luckily, his condition is gradually improving after a month. We have been lied to, you want the shot, take it. I’m not.

    • Indeed, diseases like polio and measles are very harmful.

      You have a right to ruin your health, the moral question is about taking other people with you. So I have a moral right to avoid you. Socialized medicine complicates things by making me pay for your idiocy.

      As for where SARS2 breeds, indeed it is in more than humans – animals can get it, household pets and farmed min for example. Indeed it may well have come from bats, who tend not to be severely affected by it, but the suspicion a virus was enhanced in a laboratory is credible – no smoking gun either way yet.

  6. Has anyone noticed the change in the discussion?

    We’ve shifted from “Wuhan China inflicted virus” to “blame the victim.” Why *should* Delta employees — or any other American citizen for that matter — foot the bill for something that was arguably designed as a “gain-of-function” bio-weapon in a Chinese lab?

    Shouldn’t Delta (and other companies going down this path) be requesting any payments from the US government, who in-turn should be charging the Chinese government? If our government can’t protect us, then why *do* we have agencies like NIH and FDA?

    Is the US citizen being blamed for the inefficiencies — and possible criminality — of supremely paid bureaucrats charged with the protection of the taxpayer, while those very same bureaucrats went about capitalizing off-shore experiments in gain-of-function in Wuhan laboratories, just to circumvent US laws and restrictions?

    Why is the US taxpayer being asked to foot the bill? Why aren’t these questions being asked?

    • The US taxpayer has already paid for this by funding the CDC with taxpayer money. Since 2003, the CDC has owned the patents to coronaviruses… the disease, the virus, detection, and measurement. They have to give permission to you (a company) to study it, to come up with a cure, a vaccine, etc, and they approve every step you take because they control the proprietary rights to their patents. This is all illegal because it is illegal to patent anything occurring in nature, and also to patent biological weapons. The CDC (aka Fauci) is to blame for this mess.

    • Well, in my estimation, the Biden administration and all their big corporate billionaires are in bed with China, from Apple, Google, Microsoft, and the NBA to name a few. China will defeat this country and leave us a 3rd world banana republic run by tyrants without ever firing a shot. They are loyal to the almighty dollar and tyrannical power more than America and its citizens.

  7. I find a certain perverse humor in Delta Air Lines response to the behavior of its “Delta variants”. Seriously, since when have groups who engage in behavior known to be riskier than normal not been charged higher insurance premiums than groups who behave more safely? This is effectively what Delta Air Lines is doing, with or without the cooperation of their medical insurer. Makes perfect sense to me and I wouldn’t be surprised if other employers follow suit now that there is a fully approved Covid-19 vaccine. Of course, the simpler and likely more common approach is requiring proof of vaccination as a condition of employment.

    • Brian, it’s NOT risk mitigation (since paper masks do not prevent you getting the virus and vaccinated people should not be getting infected).

      The policy actually makes no sense based on actual transmission statistics of the past year and basic biology. All this does if fine you for not sharing in the popular junk science delusion present in an irrational society.

          • The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 mRNA vaccine was fully approved by the FDA this past Monday for individuals 16 and older. The emergency use authorization was extended for individuals 12-15 years of age.

        • Comirnaty (BioNTech) is an almost identical product to the Pfizer vaccine, but differs in legality. since the Comirnaty was given full FDA approval it assumes legal responsibilities that may arise. This differs from the Pfizer vaccine which is still listed under EUA providing them with legal immunity.

          • News flash – the FDA has now approved the Pfizer vaccine.
            (Beware FDA writes bady, you have to

            But I say it is not of huge significance, the vaccine was well trialed, considering risk versus benefit. Of course people with serious health problems or deficient immune systems are at greatest risk.

            As for your claim that the CDC owns the patents etc I say NONSENSE. (Oh, right, you are a conspiracy theorist thus operate on emotions not facts and logic as aviators must or they die early.)

          • You should read the FDA’s badly written statements carefully.

            I read that both are approved, FDA has to cover all bases because there will be much of the vaccine without fancy marketing name out there.

            BTW, you are confusing yourself with company names. BioNTech developed the vaccine, Pfizer makes and distributes it so markets it. Pfizer didn’t put priority on a fancy name for marketing.

      • Misleading! from the ‘usual suspect’.

        ‘Surgical masks’ are not paper, they are woven fabric with a pressed fabric in the middle, N95 masks are much better.

        Don’t let you get a flying or maintaining license.

    • IF Delta were actually responding to the insurer’s increased premiums for individuals who have not been vaccinated, that would be fine. The company gets to decide what it pays for/shares cost with/or passes fees on to the employee. But, that’s not what’s happening here. This is a fine. A penalty. The insurer is not being paid this extra fee, Delta is. Delta’s statement that the average covid hospital stay has cost Delta $50,000 implies Delta has no health insurance – they’re self-insuring. Is that true? Or, are they saying each person that goes into the hospital costs the airline lost revenue equivalent to $50,000? With around 80,000 people working for Delta, They’re going to reap a windfall if up to 1/3 of their employees are not vaccinated. Sounds suspiciously like a way to regain lost revenue.

      Better be careful here. Delta may decide anyone engaged in risky activity will need to be penalized with higher premiums next. Or, out on sick leave. Or, having a baby. Or … you get the picture.

      • Roger Anderson commented that he thought Delta’s medical program is self-insured and I have confirmed this is the case. Presumably the $200/mo surcharge will be used exclusively to fund their increased medical self-insurance program costs and I hope that is the case.

        • Since we know that many people have natural immunity, many have immunity due to previous exposure AND that some “vaccinated” people have subsequently tested positive, on wonders about the logic of fining people who probably have the same immunity as others.

          Only logic would be illogic (i.e. political).

      • Errors:

        Doesn’t matter if Delta self-insures or not. Higher claims total will motivate an insurance company to increase rates in future.

        But it has been pointed out to you that Delta does self-insure.

        Your blather about lost revenue is nonsense conspiracy theorizing. (Delta will lose revenue if it is short of staff, because some flights won’t have crew so will not fly.

  8. And… and… and… when I wear my mask, it’s like needles sticking in my face, and.. and… and… that vaccine to got made me sick for a month and I grew a third arm, and I am so depressed that my freedom to infect some innocent person is being squashed… it’s as bad as London during the blitz, or Batan.
    Sure glad you AWOGs didn’t try to be MOGGs during WW-II, or we’d have never made it out. One good thing about the virus, probably fewer trumpkins when all is said and done.

  9. Thru mid July VAERS reported 12,313 deaths associated with the cv19 poke. On an annualized basis this vaccine death rate is slightly less than violent deaths by guns in the USA. We also know that guns wound people. How many of those that received the poke were wounded but didn’t die?

    Secondly to compare the covid bug to Polio is akin to comparing a Cub to a 747.

    Lastly, if Delta Airlines wants to use medical figures to justify their position of intrusion then they should also share what the costs of hospitalization were for the flu an pneumonia in the years prior to Covid.

    Supporting diversity of thought, and of choice, is patriotic. Lining up, for the sake of following the others, is not patriotic. Thank God for the Minutemen! Many of their friends and family were encouraging them to fall in line with the Brits.

  10. I read an article yesterday by the NTSB. The first sentence is “Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death and injuries in the United States.” Really? Compared to COVID it’s not… why haven’t we shut down the economy and hunkered in fear of driving our motor vehicles?

    • You are amazingly correct! And of the auto deaths many are caused by drunken drivers. Maybe Delta Airlines should tax every employee who smokes or drinks, every employee with a DUI, every non-monogamous employee for spreading social diseases, any employee that doesn’t regularly brush their teeth, etc, etc. Maybe delta should go back a few years and tax every employee who refused the flu shot of the day?

      Delta Airlines has given themselves God-like powers to discriminate one employee over another and at-will. This is what happens with when attorneys run companies, when one company has too much control.

    • The idiots in Congress financially incentivized false reporting of COVID-19 cases. When agencies are getting more federal money for a virus case and substantially more with use of ventilators, we’ll never have the true number.

      Never mind most any ailment which creates an immunodeficiency and makes the patient more easily subject to contracting COVID-19, what’s the actual cause of death? Most of the time, the cause is complications of the original issue such as organ transplant due to anti-rejection drugs which kill the immune system. But, I saw quite a few that labeled the cause of death as COVID-19.

      Hence, financial crimes at the hands of agency management and many cases of outright fraud by lying about the cause. We’ll never know the the truth because no inspector is going to go through a half million autopsies and records to determine the truth.

  11. So, the “Bastian” of anti-liberty wants to reassert himself as the tyrannical leader that he has long proven to be by taking more money from employees under the guise of higher costs. Never mind, everyone is supposed to take their word that’s the case with additional costs.

    Didn’t they choose to be self-insured? With that, comes the risk of higher costs in any given situation. What if a tornado sweep hit Peachtree City and Fayette County resulting in substantial injury to the very high number of Delta employees and families who live there? Is he going to increase their cost based on the potential of living in the area?

    Never mind two facts… twenty percent of new cases are breakthrough cases to those who were vaccinated. Is he going to penalize them as well?

    And, masks do not work. The Danish study proved this. If a fifty-cent surgical mask blocked a biohazard, we would not have been wearing a $200 biohazard mask during general quarters on a Navy carrier.

  12. What a load of dung this comment page turned into. I haven’t experienced so much disinformation since I watched Faux News last year at a former friends house. I wouldn’t fly with any of you. It is hopeful to see your herd thinning itself out.

  13. Avweb please moderate these comments or put in place a reddit-type system where people can volunteer to do so. The honor system, sadly, isn’t sufficient right now. And please don’t throw in the towel – it would be understandable, as before, but there is real value in preserving this as a nexus for discussion.

  14. @Foyt. When people say ‘natural immunity takes care of the virus’ are they considering the death toll and the absolute collapse of the healthcare system and society.

    If the news read that three 737s were crashing a day, we’d be up in arms for someone to do something. Well, about that many people are dying per day cause they won’t get the vaccine.

    Oh and lastly, if you want to opt out of vaccines etc then FULLY opt out of the whole health system. Ie don’t cart your sick sorry ass to the ICU when you get COVID. Go all in!!

    • I’m just pointing out the obvious; paper/cloth masks do not prevent you from getting infected AND getting a vaccine does not prevent you from spreading (an/or teasing positive later).

      Like we saw first hand in Houston and New York, the rushed multi million dollar emergency centers and hospital ships were not even used. Why do people hate good news?

      • I just don’t see where you come up with these falsities. Of course masks don’t prevent you from getting COVID but they do reduce the risk. So does washing your hands and distancing etc. So don’t muddy the waters.

        As for infections in this delta phase, 95% of the COVID admissions to hospitals are from unvaccinated. Which probably tells us that if you have the vaccine you’re more likely to be more conscious about spreading the disease by wearing masks and socially distancing. So less likely to spread even if you have the virus. Folks who don’t heed the vaccine and mask wearing are ending up in the hospitals. The ones who are taking care are not (by and large).