Delta Air Lines: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Latest Updates — Cancellation Policies, Status Changes, Routes, and More

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Like many other airlines, Delta Air Lines has been seriously impacted by COVID-19. If you have an upcoming trip booked with Delta, you might be wondering a few things about your trip — as well as your elite status.

What are your options for changing or canceling your trip?  If you have to fly, are there any lounges open? What precautions is Delta taking to keep you safe during your flight? Will you still be able to maintain your Delta Medallion elite status?

This article will answer all of your COVID-19 questions related to Delta Air Lines.

Cancellation Policies

Delta has offered a more flexible change policy and waived cancellation fees in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. These policies apply to both paid and award tickets — including non-refundable tickets.

We’ve broken down Delta’s change and cancellation policies due to COVID-19 in great detail. Click the link for full details, along with the other airlines’ policies.

Loyalty Extensions/Status Upgrades

Delta knows that you will be flying less as a result of COVID-19. Thankfully, it is offering some concessions for its customers. For example, Medallion Elite statuses will be extended through Jan. 31, 2022, lounge passes will be extended, and MQMs will be rolled over to 2021.

Explore our specific elite status extension details for Delta, along with what other airlines are granting for their elite status travelers.

Credit Card Incentives

Delta is extending certain benefits because of the impact of the pandemic. To start, if you were/are approved for a new account between December 1, 2019, and May 31, 2020, you will have a total of 6 months (up from 3 months) to meet the requirements to earn your welcome bonus.

The additional extensions by card are as follows:

Mileage Buy Incentives

There are not currently any extra incentives for purchasing Delta SkyMiles.

They are available for purchase at the standard rate of 3.5 cents each, with no bulk discounts. You can purchase in 2,000-mile increments, up to a maximum of 60,000 miles per year.

Delta Vacations

If you have made your vacation plans through Delta Vacations, it has updated its travel change and cancellation policy.

If your travel dates and/or destination is impacted, you will receive an event waiver from Delta Air Lines. This waiver allows you to cancel your existing vacation and receive a travel voucher for the original package value. Vouchers issued during this pandemic are valid for bookings made through December 31, 2021, for travel by November 30, 2022.

If you need to change or cancel your Delta Vacations reservation (for air, hotel, and car), you can manage your booking within My Trips on Delta’s website or by calling 800-800-1504. If you booked through a travel agent, you must contact them directly.

Flight Reductions and Cancellations

Delta notes that the airline’s schedule was created by factoring in “customer demand, CDC guidelines, and government travel regulations.” Additionally, “the airline’s schedule for the second quarter of 2020 is 85 percent smaller than the same period last year,” although it still “strive[s] to provide essential service to key cities globally along with essential service throughout the U.S.”

Hot Tip: To see more effects that the coronavirus has had on Delta, be sure to check out our article detailing the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on U.S. airlines.


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in October 2020, Delta also suspended service at 16 stations in markets, and while flights could resume to any of these cities at any given time, there are no set plans to return.

The affected airports are:

  • Akron-Canton (CAK)
  • Aspen (ASE)
  • Bangor (BGR)
  • Erie (ERI)
  • Flint (FNT)
  • Fort Smith (FSM)
  • Lincoln (LNK)
  • Manchester (MHT)
  • New Bern (EWN)
  • Newburgh/Stewart (SWF)
  • Newport News/Williamsburg (PHF)
  • Peoria (PIA)
  • Santa Barbara (SBA)
  • Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AVP)
  • Williston (XWA)
  • Worcester (ORH)

On the flip side of this, Delta is expanding service to more outdoor-focused locations through summer 2021 by increasing flights to the following locations:

  • New York LaGuardia (LGA) to Hilton Head, South Carolina (HHH)
  • New York LaGuardia (LGA) to Key West, Florida (EYW)
  • New York LaGuardia (LGA) to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (MYR)
  • New York (JFK) to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts (MVY)
  • New York (JFK) to Nantucket, Massachusetts (ACK)

Overall, routes are quickly changing, resulting in reductions or eliminations of routes and additions to others. This is happening constantly based on demand changes.


As economies reopen and border restrictions lift, Delta will add almost 1,000 flights system-wide in July, boosting service and nonstop connectivity to popular summer destinations and major business markets.

For a complete listing of impacted international schedules, see Delta’s website.

In addition, on December 15, 2020, Delta will launch a contact tracing initiative for flights returning to the U.S. in partnership with the CDC. Customers will voluntarily provide 5 pieces of data to aid with contact tracing and public health follow-up efforts, including:

  • Full name
  • Email address
  • Address in the U.S.
  • Primary phone
  • Secondary phone

This will give the CDC access to the data much quicker, “dramatically decreasing the time it takes to notify affected customers via local health departments.”

Important Delta News

On August 21, 2020, Delta announced that they will be testing nearly 100 percent of employees for COVID-19.

Delta is receiving governmental aid as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Under the terms of this $50 billion aid, all airlines — including Delta — are barred from cutting jobs through September 30, 2020.

Of the $50 billion, Delta will receive $5.4 billion in the form of a direct grant of $3.8 billion and a low-interest rate loan of $1.6 billion. It also notes that “the U.S. Treasury will receive warrants to purchase over 6.5 million shares of Delta common stock at a strike price of $24.39 with a 5-year maturity.”

Delta Sky Club Lounge Closures

The following Delta Sky Club lounges will remain open:

  • Atlanta (ATL – ACPT, A17, B18, D27, F, T)
  • Boston (BOS – A7)
  • Chicago (ORD – T2)
  • Cincinnati (CVG – B)
  • Dallas (DFW – E)
  • Denver (DEN – A)
  • Detroit (DTW – A38)
  • Los Angeles (LAX – T2)
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP – F/G)
  • Nashville (BNA – B3)
  • New York (JFK – T4)
  • New York (LGA – C, D)
  • Orlando (MCO – 4)
  • Phoenix (PHX – T3)
  • Raleigh (RDU – T2)
  • Seattle (SEA – A)
  • San Francisco (SFO  – C3)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • Tampa (TPA – E68)
  • Washington D.C. (DCA – B15)

While these lounges remain open, Delta notes that it is “temporarily consolidating Club operations, discontinuing shower service, and scaling back…food and beverage offerings.”

Effective May 4, 2020, all individuals entering Delta Sky Club lounges will also be required to wear a face covering.

Bottom Line: If the Sky Club lounge is not listed above, it is closed until further notice.

Safety Changes

Additional safety precautions have been made as a result of the pandemic.

Delta Cleaning Touch Points
Delta employees cleaning airport touchpoints. Image Credit: Delta

Food and Beverage Service

All glassware, including coffee mugs and champagne flutes, has been removed. Hot towel service has been temporarily suspended in all cabins. Additional food and beverage service has been altered based on the duration of your flight.

U.S. Domestic and International Flights to Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and Central America
CabinFlights More Than 350 MilesFlights From 900-1,500 MilesFlights Over 1,500 Miles
Main Cabin

Delta Comfort+

  • Snack selection
  • Bottled water
  • Snack selection
  • Bottled water
  • Snack selection
  • Additional bottled water available
First Class

Delta One

  • Snack selection
  • Bottled water
  • Pre-packaged, non-perishable Flight Fuel boxes and a snack selection will replace meal service
  • Bottled water
  • Pre-packaged, non-perishable Flight Fuel boxes and a snack selection will replace meal service
  • Additional bottled water available
Long-Haul International Flights
CabinFood and Beverage Service Provided
Main Cabin

Delta Comfort+

  • Choice of entree, along with dessert
  • Full selection of beverage options, including beer, spirits, and a limited selection of wine
Delta Premium Select
  • Choice of entree, along with salad, bread, and dessert
  • Full selection of beverage offerings, including beer, spirits, and a limited selection of wine
Delta One
  • Pre-departure beverage offering will be individual bottled water
  • Choice of entree, bread, and dessert selection
  • Full selection of beverage offerings, including beer, spirits, and a limited selection of wine

Delta states that “as always, customers are welcome to bring their own food and beverage on board to enjoy during their travels.”

Seating Arrangements

Delta has pledged to continue to block middle seats through April 30, 2021, as well as capping seating at 50% in first class and 60% in Main Cabin, Delta Comfort +, and Delta Premium Select across the fleet.

This is not guaranteed and is subject to flight capacity and other weight and balance restrictions. For more information on how this will be applied to each type of plane, please see the news release.

Disinfection Changes

Delta Fogging Aircraft
Delta’s line maintenance crew disinfect the surfaces of the cabin. Image Credit: Delta Air Lines

Per Delta, as of the week of May 7, 2020, Delta is sanitizing every flight using electrostatic sprayers. These sprayers use a disinfectant that is highly effective against many communicable diseases. Following this, the cleaning crew will still complete “an extensive checklist of cleaning procedures” that includes wiping down high-touch areas “like tray tables, seat-back entertainment screens, armrests, and seat-back pockets.”

Off of the plane, additional sanitization efforts are being taken at reservation centers, employee work and break areas in airports, pilot and flight attendant lounges, and office spaces using this same procedure.

For more information on disinfecting efforts, see Delta’s website.

It also states that “many Delta aircraft, including all of our international widebodies, plus many narrowbodies…are equipped with state-of-the-art air circulation systems…that use HEPA filters,” further adding that “coronaviruses, which range from 0.08 to 0.16 micrometers in size, are filtered out by the HEPA filter.”

Flight Attendants Will Be Required to Wear Masks

As of April 28, 2020, Delta requires masks for all flight attendants who cannot maintain a social distance from others of 6 feet. This requirement is in effect through June 30, 2020, when it will be reevaluated.

Passengers Will Be Required to Wear Masks

Staring May 4, 2020, all passengers will be required to wear a face-covering (or mask) “starting in the check-in lobby and across Delta touch points including Delta Sky Clubs, boarding gate areas, jet bridges and onboard the aircraft for the duration of the flight — except during meal service.”

It also encourages the use of face coverings at the high-traffic areas inside the airport, including security lines and restrooms. People unable to keep a face covering in place, including children, are exempt.

There has been further clarification of the Delta mask policy,  stating that “Any mask with an exhaust valve is not approved as an acceptable face mask for customers traveling on any Delta operated flight.”

Starting June 5, 2020, “care kits” will be provided upon request to customers at ticket counters and gates. These kits include:

  • A disposable face mask
  • Purell hand sanitizer gel pouches
  • Information card detailing Delta’s cleaning process

Boarding Process Changes

The boarding process for Delta flights has been adjusted as a result of the pandemic. All flights are being boarded from back-to-front to reduce the instances of customers needing to pass by one another to reach their seats.

Bottom Line: Passengers that require pre-boarding or are seated in Delta One or first class, as well as Diamond Medallion members, will not be impacted by this change.

Delta notes that these “measures will be in place through June 30 and may be adjusted or extended depending on COVID-19 developments.”

COVID-19 Tests

With the additional testing requirements being placed on international travelers, Delta customers in the U.S. will be able to purchase at-home COVID-19 tests. They can administer one prior to departure, and pack another with them to comply with negative-test requirements before their trip back into the U.S. You won’t have to worry about finding a testing location abroad with this method, so this is definitely great news for Delta customers.

Staffing Changes

On its quarterly earnings report, Delta reported that it has instituted a company-wide hiring freeze and offered voluntary leave options — with 37,000 employees (or one-third of its full-time staff) taking short-term unpaid leave.

The company will also be “enhancing benefits provided to employees while on leave and offering new longer-term leaves of up to 12 months as it continues to seek more volunteers.”

Due to the terms to receive government assistance through the CARES Act, airlines must continue to pay flight attendants and pilots the contractually minimum amounts through September 30, 2020. Due to the reduced schedules, this means that some workers will get paid regardless of whether they are flying or not.

In early August 2020, 20% of the company’s workforce, or approximately 17,000 employees, departed after taking early retirement or exit packages. In good news, Delta Air Lines said is delaying plans to furlough 1,941 pilots because it was able to reach a cost-cutting agreement with the labor union.

Fleet Changes

So far, Delta has parked more than 650 mainline and regional aircraft due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Delta announced that it will be retiring a large number of aircraft. These are currently the fleet on the chopping block:

  • 18 wide-body Boeing 777s (8 777-200ERs and 10 777-200LRs)
  • 47 MD-88 (retirement accelerated from December 2020 to June 2020)
  • 29 MD-90 (retirement accelerated from December 2020 to June 2020)

Delta notes that “the retirement will accelerate the airline’s strategy to simplify and modernize its fleet while continuing to operate newer, more cost-efficient aircraft.”

Final Thoughts

As you can see, Delta has tried to make the change/cancellation process a bit simpler. It also knows that it will be harder than ever to meet the minimum requirements for Medallion elite status during the pandemic. Because of this, it has reduced requirements and extended vouchers — for those with elite status as well as Amex cardholders.

If you must travel, Delta has taken steps to keep you safe from your first interaction with Delta staff until you are safely at your destination. Delta hasn’t completely scrapped food and beverage service but it will be significantly reduced. You can also expect the boarding process to look a bit different and have more room between passengers.

Frequently asked questions

What is Delta's COVID-19 cancellation policy?

Delta has waived cancellation fees for award and paid tickets — even including non-refundable tickets.

We’ve broken down Delta’s change and cancellation policies due to COVID-19 in great detail.

What precautions is Delta taking for COVID-19?

Delta has enhanced cleaning procedures, limited food and beverage service, and altered boarding to limit interactions. Face coverings are also required by both employees and passengers.

Christy Rodriguez

About Christy Rodriguez

Christy was born in St. Louis, Missouri, but lived in Texas the majority of her life. Now, work has her living in the Bay Area with her husband and yellow lab. Her first international travel experience was for a summer study abroad program in Italy. After that, she knew that she was destined to travel as much as possible. Luckily, her husband worked at Southwest Airlines, so they were introduced to the exciting world of “non-rev” travel.

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