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

Delta Air Lines Plane
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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 from 2020 have been 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:

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

As demand for travel picks back up, Delta has been adding in domestic and international flights back into the schedule.

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.

Domestic

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)

Further, while Austin (AUS) and Raleigh-Durham (RDU) will remain as focus cities, Cincinnati (CVG), Nashville (BNA), and San Jose (SJC) will no longer hold this title.

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 (LGA) to Hilton Head (HHH)
  • New York (LGA) to Key West (EYW)
  • New York (LGA) to Myrtle Beach(MYR)
  • New York (JFK) to Martha’s Vineyard (MVY)
  • New York (JFK) to Nantucket (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.

International

Delta notes that “customers will see more trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific flights to top business and leisure destinations for the winter 2020-2021 and summer 2021 seasons. While the airline expects pre-COVID level recovery for international flying to continue to lag U.S. domestic, Delta plans to add over 50 transoceanic flights next summer, compared to the summer 2020 schedule.”

In addition, “Delta is set to restart service in Argentina, Chile and Ecuador in time for customers seeking warm weather for the holidays, marking Delta’s return to most of the Latin American countries it served prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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

In addition, in December 2020, Delta launched 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 would 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 — were barred from cutting jobs through September 30, 2020.

Of the $50 billion, Delta received $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.”

The second round of support came in December 2020 totaling $15 billion in aid for airlines.

On March 10, 2021, the third round of support came with the passing of the American Rescue Plan. This included roughly $15 billion in aid for commercial airlines. This news came with the stipulation that airlines will not be able to furlough, layoff, or reduce salaries for employees through September 30, 2021.

Delta Sky Club Lounge Closures

The following Delta Sky Club lounges will remain open:

  • Atlanta (ATL – ACPT, A17, B18, C37 – reopening on May 1, D12, D27, E, F, T)
  • Austin (AUS – 4)
  • Boston (BOS – A7)
  • Chicago (ORD – T2)
  • Cincinnati (CVG – B)
  • Dallas (DFW – E)
  • Denver (DEN – A)
  • Detroit (DTW – A38, C)
  • Honolulu (HNL – F1)
  • Jacksonville (JAX – A)
  • Los Angeles (LAX – T2)
  • Miami (MIA – H/J)
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP – C, F/G)
  • Nashville (BNA – B3)
  • New Orleans (MSY – C)
  • New York (JFK – T4)
  • New York (LGA – C, D)
  • Orlando (MCO – 4)
  • Phoenix (PHX – T3)
  • Raleigh (RDU – T2)
  • Seattle (SEA – A)
  • San Diego (SAN – T2) opening April 27
  • San Francisco (SFO  – C3)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • Tampa (TPA – E68)
  • Washington D.C. (DCA – B15)
  • West Palm Beach (PBI – 4)

While these lounges remain open, Delta notes that it is “temporarily consolidating Club operations, giving you more space and offering personal care along with “grab & go” style food offerings and our full premium bar program.”

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

Bottom Line: All remaining Sky Club lounges will reopen by Summer 2021 CEO Ed Bastian shared with TPG.

Safety Changes

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

COVID Testing Delta Flights
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.”

In addition, starting April 14, 2021, Delta will be bringing back some additional inflight offerings in all cabins including:

  • Coffee and tea
  • Single-serving cans soft drinks and cocktails will be available

Seating Arrangements

As of May 1, 2021, Delta no longer blocks seats.

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.”

Face Masks

Flight Attendants

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 still in effect until further notice.

Passengers

As of May 4, 2020, all passengers are 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.”

The CDC mandates face mask usage inside the airport, including security lines and restrooms. People unable to keep a face covering in place, including children under 2, 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” are 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.

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 1 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.

Fleet Changes

Delta parked more than 650 mainline and regional aircraft due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These are slowly being reinstated, however, 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.

Do I need to take a COVID test to fly on Delta?

If you are flying to a location that is requiring a negative COVID test, Delta will ask for proof prior to boarding. See Delta’s travel site for more details on location-specific requirements.

Also note that you must show evidence of a negative COVID test to travel back to the U.S. from international destinations.

Do I need to wear a mask on Delta?

Yes. Federal law requires every passenger (over the age of 2) to wear a mask at all times in the airport and throughout the flight. Refusing to wear a mask can result in denial of boarding, removal from the aircraft, and/or penalties under federal law.

Please click here to see Delta’s mask policy.

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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2 comments

  1. Anthony Aquino March 28, 2021

    Delta is serving a hot meal on its HNL to ATL route.

    Reply

    • Caryn Alvarado April 25, 2021

      Did they also have all beverages offered? Wine, champagne, liquor, etc?

      Reply

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