Masks are the New Boarding Pass: Delta Air Lines Implements Strict Mask Mandate

Submited by: Carrie Wanous, Karina Peterson and Maddie Tew

School: University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications

Faculty Advisor: Donna Z. Davis

This case investigates Delta Air Lines’ decision to place customers on a no-fly list if they refuse to adhere to the mask mandate implemented during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020. This decision followed updated recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control. We examine the escalation of events leading to the mask mandate, how the company addressed communications of this mandate, and the stakeholder responses amid a rising anti-mask movement. This case explores timely questions related to an airline taking a strong stance in accordance with company values despite the growing politicization of masks and the potential alienation of customers and stakeholders.

Note: Teaching notes will be made available to faculty upon request.

2021 Student Case Study Competition

Page, in alliance with the Institute for Public Relations, conducts an annual competition for the writing of original case studies by students enrolled in a school of business, communication or journalism and who are pursuing a degree that is focused on corporate communications and the practice of public relations. The objectives of the competition are to introduce practical applications of the core principles that define corporate communication as a critical function of management to educators, teachers and students, and encourage research that contributes to the profession's body of knowledge and provide practical suggestions for improving the corporate communications function. Student authors of winning entries and their faculty advisors are awarded cash prizes and recognized by the nation's leading corporate communications executives.

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The grand prize winner receives the Jack Koten Case Study Award, named in honor of John A. "Jack" Koten, one of the founding members of the Arthur W. Page Society and its first president. The winning students are invited to the annual Awards Ceremony held each year at the Page Society's Spring Seminar in New York.