With Delta expecting to welcome up to 5.6 million customers over the Thanksgiving travel period, Chief Health Officer Dr. Henry Ting shares guidance on how customers can prepare for holiday travel and gatherings.
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The holiday season is upon us – and with it comes the excitement of reconnecting with loved ones. Over the Thanksgiving travel period alone, Delta expects to welcome up to 5.6 million customers on board, many of whom haven’t flown since the start of the pandemic. That’s why Delta’s Dr. Henry Ting – the first and only Chief Health Officer for a major U.S. airline – is sharing the following guidance to help customers returning to the skies take control of their travel, enjoy safe gatherings and make things easier along the way.

Prepare for Travel

“One of the best things you can do is to simply be prepared,” Dr. Ting said. “Delta teams have been working throughout the pandemic to make it easier for customers to navigate changing travel requirements and day-of-travel challenges. I encourage anyone traveling with us over the holidays to get to know the resources our teams have made available.”

1. Download and use the Fly Delta app. Recent improvements to the Fly Delta app give customers more ways to take control of their journey and seamlessly plan, book and manage their day of travel. An all-new Today mode featuring boarding information, upgrade status, baggage location and self-service resources like same-day changes will now be in the app, delivering even more features that make Fly Delta the customer’s ultimate travel companion.

A woman uses an electronic boarding pass on the Fly Delta app.
Recent improvements include an all-new Today mode experience, improvements to self-service features and new ways to quickly print bag tags.

2. Check for any travel requirements or restrictions. Visit our Travel Planning Center – a one-stop guide to managing the latest global travel restrictions, current testing requirements and everything else customers may need to plan a trip. And through the new Delta Discover Map, customers can conveniently filter destinations based on health requirements, including vaccination status, in just a couple of clicks.

Customers on nearly all international routes bound for the U.S. can also use a new built-in Delta FlyReady functionality to directly upload and verify their COVID-19 vaccination certificate and negative COVID-19 test results.

The Eiffel Tower
Delta is simplifying COVID-19 vaccine and other related entry requirements during booking, check-in and beyond with new experiences on delta.com.

3. Arrive early. To get ahead of the hustle and bustle, customers should arrive to the airport two hours ahead of their domestic flight and three hours ahead of their international flight.

4. Review the TSA guidelines. Check out the latest guidelines from TSA to know what’s permitted to bring along during travel. Note that every customer is allowed one 12oz bottle of liquid hand sanitizer through U.S. security checkpoints. International security allowances may vary.

5. Move more quickly through security lines with CLEAR and TSA PreCheck. Enroll in CLEAR — now available in more than 35 airports where we fly — and speed through security lines with just the touch of a finger or blink of an eye. U.S.-based SkyMiles® Members get preferred pricing on CLEAR memberships, including complimentary memberships for U.S.-based Diamond Medallion Members. And customers traveling with children are in luck! Children under 18 can go through CLEAR lanes for free with an adult with no registration required.

Customers should consider applying for TSA PreCheck, which is now available at 200+ airports nationwide, including a new Delta-TSA PreCheck express lobby and bag drop in Atlanta. Frequent travelers thinking about investing in expedited security programs should compare the benefits of CLEAR, TSA PreCheck, Sky Priority and Global Entry on delta.com to see what program is right for them.

A woman uses facial recognition technology to check in.
New facial recognition-enabled experience in Atlanta provides hands- and device-free convenience for travelers from curb to gate.

6. Wear your mask. We know that wearing masks is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of transmission. All customers are required to wear a mask or face covering throughout the travel experience in accordance with the federal mask mandate, effective through Jan. 18, 2022. For the safety and protection of our customers and employees, Delta has zero tolerance for failure to comply with federal mandates.

“Even as we reunite with friends and family this holiday season, it’s important to remember that the pandemic is still ongoing,” said Dr. Ting. “As vaccinations have continued to increase, many of us have regained a sense of normalcy in our daily lives – but we still need to comply with federal mandates and do what we can to keep each other safe.”

7. Give a little grace – to yourself and others – especially when things don’t go as planned. Weather delays and cancellations are infrequent, but when challenges come up that impact travel, Delta people will work around the clock to:   

  • Notify customers of a delay or cancellation — before customers leave for the airport, if possible.   
  • Mitigate these inconveniences by attempting to automatically rebook on the next available flight while working to reroute checked baggage to the same flight.

“When things don’t go as planned, one way to reduce the stress of the moment is to take a deep breath and give grace to yourself and to those around you,” Dr. Ting said.

8. Recharge on board. Sit back and relax with new in-flight entertainment collections and content sure to elevate the travel experience during the holidays. In addition to new movies and TV episodes, you can prepare for that getaway or family reunion this holiday season with guided meditations and stretches led by Peloton instructors via an exclusive new “Classes in the Clouds” collection.

In-flight entertainment right in your seatback.
New Delta Studio collections and premium content coming in November deliver an elevated holiday travel experience.

Prepare for Gatherings

Getting to your holiday destination is just part of the adventure. The safe practices that are proven to work for travel can be used for gatherings as well. Whether traveling by car, train or plane to reunite with friends and family, consider taking the following precautions to have confidence that everyone gathered remains safe:

1. Take advantage of testing. Whether or not a negative COVID-19 test is required to travel, it’s always a good idea to take advantage of testing before a large gathering to identify asymptomatic individuals and stop the spread. Within Delta’s Travel Planning Center, we’ve identified local testing resources for many of our destinations as well as new in-home testing options to help makes things a little easier. Use this tool when traveling or for personal purposes.

2. Get vaccinated. Delta believes in the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccinations in saving lives and continues to strongly encourage getting vaccinated.

“Vaccinations are the most effective tool we have for keeping you and your loved ones safe and healthy in the face of this ongoing pandemic,” Dr. Ting said. “COVID-19 vaccines are highly accessible, effective and safe, and should be considered alongside the flu shot ahead of the holidays.”

3. Wash your hands – and your mask. As recommended by the CDC, wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds – especially before preparing food for the family. And wash reusable masks at least once a day or as soon as they become dirty.

4. Stay home if you feel sick. We’ve got you covered if you have to cancel your trip. If you feel sick, stay home. When it comes to traveling, Delta customers can still change or cancel trips directly on delta.com or the Fly Delta app through 2021 without paying a change fee. Once you arrive at your destination, the same rule should apply – stay away from loved ones if you feel sick.