Delta Air Lines has told flight attendants not to tell their colleagues if they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and to avoid posting their diagnosis on any form of social media including the airline’s internal intranet. The email, which some see as a way to conceal the number of positive Coronavirus cases within the company, follows the revelation that Delta had instructed the same of its pilots in a secret video recording.
The email, sent on Thursday afternoon, tells flight attendants to “refrain from notifying” their colleagues, including people they have worked with or may have just had passing contact with and instead “follow an established process” that the company has set up internally.
Delta sought to reassure its 25,000 strong community of flight attendants by telling them it would conduct some form of contact tracing on their behalf. The leaked memo told staffers: “Once you have completed the reporting procedures listed above, leaders will follow the established process to notify any impacted flight attendants.”
But management then goes on to warn flight attendants from posting any details about their diagnosis or COVID-19 related symptoms on social media. “Please do not post on social media (including SkyHub) about your health status,” the email from the Atlanta-based airline reads.
Flight attendants from around the world have used Facebook and other social media platforms to share their experiences of having the respiratory illness caused by the novel Coronavirus and to alert other members. One such private group on Facebook has close to 10,000 members.
The popularity of these groups follows the decision by some airlines to conceal the numbers of flight attendants who have self-quarantined because of suspected or confirmed COVID-19. Other carriers have failed to notify crew members if they have been working with someone who had the illness.
In some cases, Delta has apparently notified crew members that they have worked with someone who had COVID-19 but they had assessed the risk to be sufficiently low that they could continue working.
Delta wasn’t immediately available for comment but in a statement provided to the Huffpost, the airline said it takes “the responsibility of notifying all of our Delta people seriously and have a strong protocol in place to ensure we get in touch with anyone potentially exposed to provide support.”
“Indeed, it was not our intent to cause confusion among flight attendants on this,” a spokesperson said while emphasizing that there are no plans to penalize flight attendants to who do post their experiences on social media.
The latest email from Delta comes around a week after a video emerged of a senior Delta manager telling pilots not to tell their colleagues, including fellow pilots and flight attendants if they had been diagnosed with the illness. Again, there were concerns Delta was trying to hide the number of cases at the airline – a charge that Delta rejects.
Several days ago, a union that represents flight attendants at American Airlines confirmed that around 100 of its members had been diagnosed with COVID-19. Delta did not reply with a request for comment on how many of its pilots and flight attendants had been affected by the Coronavirus.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.