EDITOR'S NOTE: CEO Ed Bastian shared the below memo with employees on Wednesday.

Ed Bastian to Delta Colleagues Worldwide

Reclaiming the skies

With COVID-19 vaccinations accelerating, we’re hearing from more and more of our customers that they’re ready to reconnect and return to the skies. Thanks to your outstanding service during an especially challenging year, our customers’ trust in Delta has only deepened, and our outlook for the spring and summer travel season continues to improve amid strong signs that consumer confidence in travel is returning.  

Our internal research has shown that 64 percent of Delta customers anticipate having at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by May 1, increasing to 75 percent by Memorial Day. As a nation, we’re administering more than 3 million vaccines each day. Our own expert, Chief Health Officer Dr. Henry Ting, estimates that the U.S. will reach 70-80 percent vaccinated – and thus achieve herd immunity – by early summer. As of this week, 31 percent of our employees have been vaccinated, and we expect that to accelerate as more states, including our home state of Georgia, have now opened vaccine access to the entire adult population. 

With inoculations rising and travelers telling us they’re ready to return to Delta, today we’re making a number of changes to our service to meet our customers’ needs, increase their confidence in travel and maintain the trust and loyalty that we’ve built throughout the pandemic. 

Those steps include unblocking the middle seat and allowing customers to book any seat on our planes effective May 1, introducing a newly designed snack and beverage service on all flights as a first step in bringing back more onboard food options, and re-opening almost all of our Delta Sky Clubs by July (including brand new clubs in Fort Lauderdale and Tokyo-Haneda). We’re also unveiling a host of customer benefits including new digital travel tools, industry-leading IFE content, generous SkyMiles Status accelerators and more time for customers to use eCredits they may have received over the last year. 

We’re also adding more service as our customers begin to return to travel, including flights to popular leisure destinations including Alaska, the Mountain West, beaches and abroad. 

Don’t confuse these actions with a return to “normal.” We’re still operating in a pandemic, and many of the changes we’ve made over the past year, such as strengthening our cleanliness protocols and eliminating change fees, will be permanent. Importantly, masks remain critical to our ability to safely welcome more people onboard our planes, and we remain committed to enforcing these requirements. We continue to be guided by our goals and principles for the year, which include: 

Protect people above all else. Our values-based culture puts people at the heart of every decision. As we welcome customers back to air travel, keeping you and them safe and healthy will always be our top priority, and it’s why we’re maintaining our science-based approach to cleanliness. Masks will continue to be required and our industry-leading cleanliness standards will still be in place. Medical experts at Mayo Clinic and Emory, as well as our own Chief Health Officer Dr. Henry Ting, will guide the way. 

Transform the travel journey. We remain committed to the vision we delivered at CES in early 2020, to create a travel experience that reduces customer stress while allowing travelers to feel safe and confident at every point on their journey. 

Let customers lead the way. Throughout the pandemic, our approach has been shaped by our customers’ voices. Every action we’re announcing today, from unblocking the middle seat to starting to bring back on-board food and beverage, is in response to our customers. They’re telling us they’re ready, and we are ensuring Delta will be ready to transport them safely, comfortably and conveniently. 

Delta is incredibly well-positioned to soar into the recovery and lead our industry. That’s entirely due to your hard work and the great care you’ve taken of our customers and each other throughout this historic crisis. You are all heroes, and I will be forever grateful and humbled by the professionalism, sacrifice and humanity that each one of you displayed over the past year. 

Thank you for everything you continue to do every day to help us through the crisis. Please continue to take all necessary steps to keep yourself, your family and your community safe and healthy. I look forward to seeing you all during my travels in the week and months ahead. 

Ed

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