0 min left

Airlines: Wear Face Coverings or Face Consequences

Flyers at airport wearing face masks

A unified front of airlines are asking flyers to be courteous and wear a face mask when traveling to prevent the spread of the novel Coronavirus. If passengers refuse, they could be denied boarding, or even be put on an internal “no-fly” list for a period of time. 

Domestic air carriers are sending a clear message to passengers: Wear a face mask when flying, or go on a travel ban list. Alongside air travel association Airlines for America, the major carriers are introducing stiff penalties for passengers who refuse to wear a face covering when flying.

Why Airlines are Making The Move Now

Under guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, all Americans are encouraged to wear a cloth face covering “in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain” to prevent the spread of the novel Coronavirus. Airplanes rank high on that list. By the end of April 2020, a group of legislators demanded the U.S. Department of Transportation make face masks mandatory for airplanes.

The agency didn’t move on the issue, letting airlines self-regulate the use of face masks. With scenes of crowded aircraft with mixed mask usage going viral, the industry is now forcing all passengers to wear face masks while flying.

How Airlines Are Implementing the Face Mask Rule

According to the Airlines for America memo, seven airlines will implement more stringent rules for all passengers. Along with the three legacy carriers, Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue and Southwest Airlines will adopt a unified rule set. Although low cost carriers Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines are not included on the list, both require passengers to wear face masks. Frontier’s policy began on May 8, 2020, while Spirit enacted theirs on May 13.

At American Airlines, the new policies are in effect immediately. United’s mandatory policy will begin on Thursday, June 18, and is expected to last for at least 60 days. The only exceptions are for individuals who have documented medical condition or disability and can’t wear a face mask, those who cannot put on or remove a face mask on their own, or small children. Flyers will be allowed to temporarily remove masks to eat and drink.

In addition to the public outreach, the airlines will communicate the new policy both in pre-flight communications and onboard announcements. In e-mails and during the check-in process, flyers will be reminded of the face mask policy, with some going so far as to force flyers to accept the policy before they receive a boarding pass.

Prior to boarding and aboard the flight, passengers will be reminded once more of the face mask policy. At United, those without a face mask aboard an aircraft will be repeatedly reminded of the policy, and may be given one if necessary. Aboard American, those without a face mask will be denied boarding.

Not Wearing a Face Mask Could End on the “No Fly” List

Under the unified policy, flyers who decide against wearing the face covering will face penalties determined by the airline. The penalties can range from denial of boarding, to a complete denial of travel privileges for a period of time.

In their statement, American notes that those without face coverings during boarding will not be able to fly that day, and “may also deny future travel for customers who refuse to wear a face covering.” American did not specify how long someone could be on the “no fly” list.

United’s policy is much more complex. If a passenger boards a flight without a face mask and doesn’t fall under the exception, a flight attendant will remind them of the policy. If they continue to refuse, the cabin crew will de-escalate the situation, remind them of the face mask rule and provide a reminder card. From there, the flight attendant can file a security report which will begin a formal review once the flight is complete. The United security team will then determine if they should go on the “no fly” list.

“U.S. airlines are very serious about requiring face coverings on their flights,” Airlines for America president Nicholas E. Calio said in a statement. “Carriers are stepping up enforcement of face coverings and implementing substantial consequences for those who do not comply with the rules.”

The policy follows guidance from Airlines for America’s “Fly Healthy. Fly Smart.” campaign. The information reminds flyers what airlines are doing to keep passengers healthy, while reminding passengers how they can do their part.

bloomz July 14, 2020

I went in a store last week whose sign said "Mask must cover your nose and mouth". You'd kinda *think* that is a forgone conclusion, but I've seen some obvious maskholes Rumpanzees mouth breather types with them around their neck. Guess you have to explain it to the lowest common denominator. Are they dumb, or just stupid?

KenTarmac July 4, 2020

To all the naysayers above who complain about "security theater", and "US airlines currently have no credibility" If you don't like the simple act of wearing a mask then don't fly. It's that simple.

MRM June 20, 2020

People who continue to refuse to wear masks as "their right" can continue to blame themselves as this COVID continues its way to a summer resurgence - and then another in the fall and then another in winter... But hey - it's "your right" to keep the COIVD party going because "you're an American!"...

jficht June 18, 2020

But the airlines still serve snacks and drinks. On a United flight from IAH to DTW, June 16th, I managed to nurse two bottles of water, some pretzels, and a sandwich that I brought for almost two hours of the 2 1/2 flight.

picturegal June 18, 2020

I just got a survey from Delta asking what it would take to get me to fly again. Nowhere in the list was "Safety Precautions" to inhibit virus transmission. I left that one blank. I'm not about to get on a plane while there are people out there who are willing to say "I don't care about your health."